Last week, this blog examined the most recent retail sales numbers, which show that the industry is down. However, examining the entire industry points to a much brighter future for merchants.

A recent report from the National Retail Federation attempted to forecast the next few years. The numbers show that sales in the industry will increase by 4.1 percent through 2014. That is up from 3.7 percent, which was experienced in 2013. Online sales will also play a major role, experiencing growth between 9 and 12 percent.

"Measured improvements in economic growth combined with positive expectations for continued consumer spending will put the retail industry in a relatively good place in 2014," Matthew Shay, the federation's president and CEO, told the news source. "Though headwinds in the form of the looming debt ceiling debates, increased health care costs and regulatory concerns still pose risks for both consumers and retailers, we are cautiously optimistic and hopeful that the economic tides will change in 2014."

The report also points toward improved economic growth and labor market recovery, which will be taking place over the next 12 months.

According to Jack Kleinhenz, the NRF's economist, the industry is still susceptible to the buffets like harsh winter weather, domestic and global financial issues. These factors cannot be ignored, but there is hope that the growth will make these less of a problem.

With the possibilities of improved retail, companies will need to ensure they have the right cash register hardware and POS credit card processing software to meet the demands of increased traffic.