John Raoux, Associated Press
NEW YORK — The nation's largest retail trade group is paring its annual sales forecast because of slower-than-expected growth during the first half of the year tied to winter storms and lingering economic woes.
The Washington-based National Retail Federation says Wednesday that it now expects retail sales will rise 3.6 percent this year to $3.2 trillion, instead of its original prediction of 4.1 percent released in early February.
The figures include sales in stores and online but exclude automotive sales and sales at gas stations and restaurants.
Retailers now are heading into the back-to-school shopping season, the second-largest shopping period behind the winter holidays.