Read the Full Report & Infographic: 2017 BDO Retail Compass Survey of CFOs

Our 11th annual Retail Compass Survey of CFOs polled 100 CFOs at leading U.S. retailers on their industry-wide projections for the year ahead. Overall, the survey found that retail CFOs are bullish in their growth expectations, predicting a 4.9% increase in total sales and a 10.7% uptick in online sales—the highest in our survey’s history. They also anticipate a busy year ahead for deal making and investment in the industry. As retailers come to grips with the reality of today’s cutthroat environment, 38% cite competition and consolidation as their top concern in the next year. And overall, nearly half (46%) of participants forecast an uptick in retail M&A activity in 2017. Retailers’ bullish outlooks for the industry are also reflected in their valuation expectations, with CFOS predicting buyers will pay an average EBITDA multiple of 7.0, another survey record-high.
Natalie Kotlyar says, “The 2016 holiday season was a moment of reckoning for many in the retail industry. Some are fired up following record-breaking results, and others are catching their last sparks. 2017 holds promise, but there’s no room for coasting in a marketplace so saturated with new and legacy concepts.” 
Not only are retail CFOs challenged by intense competition with industry peers, they are also skittish on the evolving political and regulatory landscape. From the proposed border tax, to shifts in labor regulations, changes from the Trump administration are top-of-mind for CFOs. For instance, 61% of survey participants say a reduction in the U.S. corporate tax rate would have the greatest impact on their business when considering the tax developments that may be on the horizon. At the same time, retailers indicated that comprehensive tax reform—including the proposed destination-basis tax system with border adjustments—could have a potentially detrimental effect.
For additional insights into what retail CFOs are focusing on in 2017, including investment tactics, responses to regulatory changes, approaches to digital and cybersecurity, projections for IPO activity and more, download and read the full report online here, and be sure to check out our latest infographic below: