The National Retail Federation (NRF) has responded to strong growth in several major economic indicators by raising its retail sales estimate for 2002.

NRF's Retail Sales Outlook, which forecasts sales figures for tenants of malls and shopping centers, now predicts an increase of 6% for the year over 2001. The original forecast predicted sales would increase 3.7%.

Factors contributing to the turnaround include strong consumer spending, an improving job market, robust home sales and a more positive corporate outlook, according to Rosalind Wells, NRF's chief economist.

Discounters in particular posted strong March results: Wal-Mart, for example, reported a 14.5% increase in net sales for March compared with the same five-week period in 2001.