Retail chief financial officers are growing more confident in the overall economic picture, with the majority expecting a 4.5 percent rise in total 2012 sales, according to data released by BDO USA.

The latest BDO Retail Compass Survey of CFOs was conducted in August and September. While many of the 100 retail cfo’s polled expect a continuation of stagnant economic conditions in the short term, the data showed that the number of cfo’s forecasting an ongoing economic turnaround nearly tripled this year to 32 percent from 11 percent in 2011.

Doug Hart, partner in the retail and consumer product practice at BDO, said, “Consumers proved resilient through [the] back-to-school season, and that is fueling greater optimism for holiday sales results.”


In general, 48 percent of those surveyed forecast an increase in comparable-store sales for the second half of 2012, pegging the second half comps rise at 3.6 percent and the full-year comps gain at 4.1 percent. They also said inventory levels for holiday were flat over year-ago levels, with 58 percent saying too much inventory was a greater risk than too little. Cost of products was the primary threat to margins, according to 40 percent of retail cfo’s. Logistics and transportation at 18 percent was the second biggest threat. Rounding out the top four were store operating costs, and inventory levels and markdowns, each at 17 percent.

With the unemployment rate still above 8 percent, it was no surprise that 60 percent of the cfo’s said that the labor front represented the greatest impact on consumer confidence.