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Cold winter lowers retail sales forecast for the year

The National Retail Federation has lowered its retail sales forecast for 2014 due to slow growth recorded during the first six months of the year, but expects sales to grow faster over the next five months.

The Washington, D.C.-based global retail trade association calculated in a report released Wednesday that sales grew 2.9 percent during the first half of the year and are expected to grow 3.9 percent during the second half. The severe weather and other factors experienced earlier this year took their toll on retail, according to the NRF report.

"No retailer was immune to the doldrums witnessed during the first quarter, and as a result, the year's growth trajectory was impacted," NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. "That said, there is plenty of evidence that the second half of the year will be better for the industry as consumers begin to feel more optimistic about their spending decisions."

In January, NRF forecast that retail sales for this year would grow 4.1 percent compared to 2013, but Wednesday's revision lowered the forecast to 3.6 percent. NRF is still expecting nonstore sales, including online, kiosk and direct-to-consumer sales, to increase between 9 and 12 percent.

The numbers include general retail sales and nonstore sales, but exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.

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