How the nation's largest private-sector employer touches everyone, everywhere, every day.

When the holiday season approaches each year, the spirit of giving is in the air. And for many, that means shopping — from food to toys to electronics to decorations and more, holiday gifting is big business. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation's (NRF) 2023 holiday forecast, consumers are projected to spend up to $966 billion to celebrate the winter holidays this year. This surge of spending highlights the significant role retail plays in fueling economic activity during the festive season, benefiting both businesses and consumers alike.

Of course, the retail industry's impact stretches far beyond the holiday season and is woven into every aspect of the U.S. economy.

Standing as the largest private-sector employer in the country and with a remarkable contribution of $3.9 trillion to the annual GDP, retail is the backbone of the nation's financial well-being and plays a pivotal role in driving economic prosperity. What truly distinguishes retail is its ability to support a workforce of 52 million Americans, equivalent to one in every four American jobs. It's a dynamic industry that fosters career growth, offers well-compensated positions and acts as a launchpad for aspiring professionals.

Further, as an industry deeply rooted in consumer engagement, retail also sits at the forefront of innovation. Consistently adapting to evolving consumer behavior and ever-changing demands, retail serves as a critical link between producers and consumers, ensuring the availability of the products and services we rely on every day.

Here are eight reasons why the retail industry is a critical engine for driving a healthy U.S. economy.

1. RETAIL IS THE NATION’S LARGEST PRIVATE-SECTOR EMPLOYER
More than 52 million Americans rely on the retail sector for their livelihood, representing a quarter of the U.S. workforce. Beyond sales and food services, the industry also employs workers in logistics, finance, technology and more.

2. RETAIL POWERS OUR NATION’S GDP
A PricewaterhouseCoopers study reveals that retail contributes $3.9 trillion to the annual GDP, underlining its importance to the U.S. economy.

3. RETAIL IS CONSTANTLY EVOLVING
The retail industry is innovative and dynamic, and invests in cutting-edge technology to meet consumer demand, support ongoing consumer spending and respond to ever-changing consumer needs.

4. RETAIL IS EVERYWHERE
Over four million U.S. retailers — about 10 percent of all businesses — serve as vital contributors to the economy and local communities. As retailers continue to embrace tech, consumers can shop anywhere, anytime via more than 300 million smartphones.

5. RETAIL MEETS CONSUMERS WHERE THEY ARE
From online to in-store, retailers are meeting consumers wherever they are, creating an integrated experience that blends channels. Nine of the top 10 e-commerce websites are run by retailers that also operate bricks-and-mortar stores.

6. RETAIL SUPPORTS CONSUMER SPENDING
Consumer spending makes up approximately 70 percent of the U.S. economy, and retailers are facilitating consumer spending by offering a range of shopping channels from bricks-and-mortar to digital and multichannel transactions.

7. FIRST JOBS ARE FOUND IN RETAIL
Fifty-nine percent of Americans have worked a retail job, and 32 percent of Americans first started their careers in retail, making retail a critical pathway to professional growth and the first step for many to long-term financial well-being.

8. RETAIL IS AN INDUSTRY OF OPPORTUNITY
A Growth from Knowledge study found that working in retail offers plentiful opportunities for advancement. In fact, six out of 10 current retail store employees have been promoted and about nine out of 10 have earned a raise.

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