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2024 Economic Outlook: A Dive into the U.S. Economy and Retail Trends

At Bluestock Advisors, our mission is to guide our clients in crafting unique strategies that drive their businesses forward and help them grow. Understanding future market trends is a crucial part of developing a growth strategy, and the economic forecast significantly influences this. Our growth strategy consultant, Katie Jacobs, has put in the work to research, analyze, and crunch numbers to give you a glimpse into what the rest of the year 2024 might hold for the U.S. economy and the dynamic retail sector. While we're not economists, if you're on the lookout for a straightforward rundown on economic trends and their potential impact on your retail operation, we've created this synopsis to offer you easy-to-understand retail insights in this economic outlook.

A Quick Look at the U.S. Economy


We saw a mixed bag in 2023 with GDP growth slowing from 2.9% in the second quarter to a softer 2.6% in the third.  The decline was driven by high-interest rates and a sluggish global scene.  On the other hand, the job market stayed strong, with unemployment hovering near a 50-year low at 3.7%.

As we all probably know well, the year also brought some challenges with inflation. Prices went up by 6.1% in October 2023 compared to the year prior, staying above the comfort zone set by the Federal Reserve. So, what's the big picture? We've got moderated growth, a robust job scene, but a bit of a headache with rising prices.

What's Cooking in Fiscal and Monetary Policies?

In 2023, both the government and the Federal Reserve balanced fiscal policy to support economic growth and countered with interest rate hikes to control inflation. Looking ahead to 2024, there's an anticipation of a moderate shift towards restrained fiscal policy, although specifics remain subject to ongoing debates. The Fed is expected to take a gradual approach to further interest rate increases, though the exact pace remains uncertain. While businesses may face rising borrowing costs, the ultimate impact hinges on broader economic trends.

The Retail Rundown - Economic Outlook


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, total retail sales in 2023 are up 3.2% from 2022, and e-commerce sales are up 7.6% from 2022's third quarter. In the third quarter of 2023, e-commerce accounts for 15.6% of total sales, while total retail sales increase 2.3% during the same period. 


The big winners? Personalization and tech. Retailers are getting smarter, using data to make shopping feel like it's tailored just for you, and seamless omni-channel experiences so customers can shop across channels as they wish.

But what about 2024? We expect the home sector to continue to capitalize on the smart home automation and sustainability trends.  Retailers continue to pave the way for personalized recommendations and streamlined inventory through data analytics and AI.

2024 Retail Trends


As we move through 2024, retailers are emphasizing efficiency, sustainability, and personalized experiences driven by AI and technology. AI is making shopping more personalized and fun, and there's a strong push towards being kinder to our planet. However, consumer sentiment reflects a mix of anticipation and caution due to concerns about inflation and business conditions.


Wrapping It Up


In conclusion, the outlook for 2024 presents both opportunities and challenges, with dynamic shifts expected in the job market, retail, and technology sectors. It's crucial to stay informed and prepared to make the most of the opportunities that 2024 presents.


Stay tuned, stay informed, and let's make the most of what 2024 has to offer!


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