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Retail group sees solid sales growth this year

NEW YORK (AP) — The nation’s largest retail trade group forecasts that retail sales should grow between 3.5% and 4.1% to more than $3.9 trillion this year despite uncertainty from the lingering trade war, the new virus and the presidential election.

The forecast from the National Retail Federation, released Wednesday, is in line with the 3.7 % preliminary gain in 2019 compared with 2018. The figures exclude sales from automobile dealers, gas stations and restaurants.

The forecast assumes that the new virus doesn’t become a global pandemic, but it said that business confidence and retail sales could be affected if factory shutdowns in China continue, particularly if the winter holiday merchandise is affected.