ECONOMY

Retail group: Sales to grow 3.7 percent to 4.2 percent

The nation's largest retail trade group is predicting that annual retail sales will increase between 3.7 percent and 4.2 percent this year.

The National Retail Federation, the nation's largest retail trade group, released it outlook Wednesday, which compares to last year's figure of 3.75 percent. The figure excludes sales from automobiles, gasoline and restaurants.

The trade group said online and other non-store sales such as from catalogs, which are included in the overall number, are expected to rise 8 percent to 12 percent. It said last month that sales in November and December rose 4 percent, beating a forecast of 3.6 percent. But online sales rose 12.6 percent.

After a bumpy holiday season and sales increasingly moving online, malls have been struggling and stores like The Limited are shutting down.