Finance Execs Optimistic About 2017 Retail Sales

Retail CFOs project gains of 4.9%

March 21, 2017

Financial executives in the retail industry are optimistic about financial performance this year, according to a new survey by BDO USA.

CFOs surveyed by BDO predicted that total sales will rise 4.9% this year, up from their 3.4% projection of 2016. Not surprisingly, digital sales are expected to rise significantly faster, at a 10.7% level.

The healthy outlook strikes a slightly discordant note amidst the upheaval in the industry, an imbalance noted by the BDO itself, which speculated that “there may be a bifurcation of industry performance this year.”

Natalie Kotlyar, the national leader of BDO’s consumer business practice, referred to the 2016 holiday season as “a day of reckoning” in the industry: “Some are fired up following record-breaking results,” she said, “and others are catching their last sparks.”

A key factor for 2017 performance will be tax and regulatory policy in the wake fo the 2016 presidential election. More than 60% of the surveyed CFOs said that a reduction in in the US corporate tax rate would have the greatest impact on their business.

Another key concern highlighted in the survey is cybersecurity. Despite the Trump administration’s anti-regulatory stance, some 70% of the CFOs expect tighter cybersecurity regulation in the next year, and 57% said they had increased cybersecurity spending in the past 12 months.

The BDO survey is both more and less optimistic than eMarketer’s latest forecast for 2017 sales. eMarketer projects overall retail sales will rise 3.5%, below the BDO survey level. But eMarketer’s forecast for ecommerce sales growth, at 16.0%, is considerably higher than the BDO survey.