The nation's largest retail industry trade group is forecasting that retail sales will increase a solid 3.4 percent this year, below last year's pace of 4.7 percent as job woes continue to weigh on shoppers.
The National Retail Federation said Monday that sales should reach $2.53 trillion this year, up from $2.45 trillion last year.
The pace is still above the 10-year annual average increase of almost 3.1 percent, and continues a three-year consumer spending recovery after sales slumped 3.5 percent in 2009.
The group is releasing its forecast as thousands of retailers gather in New York this week for the industry's annual convention.
Economists closely watch consumer spending because it accounts for 70 percent of all U.S. economic activity.