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CHICAGO, Feb 12 (Reuters) - The National Retail Federation on Thursday projected U.S. retail industry sales will rise 4.1 percent this year, a bigger gain than in 2014, citing its expectation of faster economic growth and further improvement in the job market.
Retail sales rose 3.5 percent last year, the NRF said.
The 4.1 percent increase would mark the biggest annual growth since 2011, when retail sales rose 5.1 percent, the industry body said.
"While our outlook for the year ahead is positive, we aren't quite out of the woods," NRF Chief Executive Matthew Shay said.
The economy started the first quarter on a softer note with U.S. consumer spending barely growing in January as households cut back on purchases of a range of goods.
However, Shay expects momentum to pick up during the year on the back of improved consumer sentiment, better jobs growth and lower gas prices.
The industry body expects cybersecurity to remain a top priority for retailers this year and said it will monitor labor negotiations at the West Coast ports which has been disrupting shipments of a wide range of goods and causing delays of several weeks at a time.
The NRF also predicted online sales would rise between 7 percent and 10 percent this year.
Reporting by Nandita Bose; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Christian Plumb