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Survey finds retail execs positive about the future


NEW YORK Retail executives are optimistic about 2010, at least according to a recent survey by auditor KPMG. According to the survey, two-thirds of senior executives in the retail industry expect to see better revenue, profitability and an improving jobs picture in 2010.

In the KPMG survey, which focused on the retail industry specifically, 70% of the executives said they expect business conditions to improve in 2010, with 68% expecting stronger revenue and 66% expecting improved profitability. However, 44% of those surveyed still believe the U.S. economy as a whole could take as long as 2011 or later to substantially recover.

Overall, 84% of retail executives see an improving jobs picture in their industry in 2010, with 52% saying it would be stable and 32% saying it will be better than 2009. At the same time, three-quarters of them said they had already instituted headcount reductions and only 14% were contemplating further such actions.

"This outlook for the year ahead and beyond should be heartening, since the importance of the U.S. retail industry to gross domestic product and overall economic health cannot be overstated. It's the second largest industry in the U.S. and employs the second highest number of people among all sectors," said Mark Larson, KPMG global retail sector chair.

When survey respondents were asked to identify the triggers they think will spur a U.S. economic recovery, the most frequently cited factors by far were increased consumer spending (52%), improved consumer confidence (51%) and an increase in jobs/employment (48%).

When asked to identify the biggest challenges they currently faced in dealing with the economic downturn, retail leaders most frequently cited restoring consumer confidence (55%), finding new sources of revenue growth (51%), managing/cutting costs (48%), and adjusting to changing customer demand (46%).

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