September 26, 2017 / 11:38 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Norway retailers face brighter outlook after slow year -Virke

* Nominal growth in 2017 retail sales cut to 3.5 pct

* Virke blames poor weather for downgrade

* Nominal 2018 growth seen at 4.0 pct

* Volume growth seen at 2-2.5 pct in 2017, 3 pct in 2018 (Adds quotes, background)

OSLO, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Norwegian retailers will probably see faster sales growth in the coming year following a slower-than-expected start to 2017, the Enterprise Federation of Norway, also known as Virke, predicted on Tuesday.

Sales are now projected to grow by just 3.5 percent on a nominal basis in 2017, below a June forecast of 4.0 percent and further down from the 4.5 percent seen by Virke at the start of the year.

Poor weather for much of 2017, hitting sales of clothes and sports equipment, was a key factor explaining the downgrades, in addition to lower than expected prices for groceries, Virke chief economist Lars Haartveit said.

In 2018 however, retail sales will likely rise by 4.0 percent, Virke predicted in a first forecast for that year. In volume terms it saw close to 3 percent growth next year, up from a range of around 2-2.5 percent in 2017.

Virke has about 20,000 member businesses that in total employ more than 225,000 people, corresponding to eight percent of Norway’s workforce.

Retailers seeing the greatest growth are either low-cost or offering a wide range of products, Haartveit said, pointing to Jula, Nille, Europris and Clas Ohlson as examples, along with building materials and consumer electronics. (Reporting by Ole Petter Skonnord, editing by Terje Solsvik)

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