While significantly more optimistic than a year ago, CFOs at major U.S. retailers are projecting only modest growth for 2010, according to a recent survey by BDO USA, LLP, one of the nation’s leading accounting and consulting firms.

Forty-seven percent of CFOs anticipate their total sales revenue for 2010 to increase over 2009, and 30% of CFOs say their sales will be about the same. Only 21% of CFOs project a decrease in total sales for 2010, compared to 60% in 2009.

CFOs expect their comp store sales for the second half of 2010 to grow by 1.9%, compared to the 4% decrease they predicted in 2009. Forty-four percent of CFOs say their comparable store sales for the second half will increase, while 18% say they will decrease from the same period in 2009. This compares to 50% who expected second half 2009 comp sales to decline over the same period in 2008.
Despite keeping a close eye on inventory, 42% of CFOs plan to increase inventory purchases in the first half of 2011.

Others are holding off — 16% are delaying planned increased inventory purchases until the second half of 2011, and 24% are waiting to increase inventory until 2012 or later. Only 17% of CFOs plan to increase their inventory levels during the 4th quarter of 2010 in time for holiday shopping.

The BDO USA, LLP Retail Compass Survey of CFOs examines the opinions of 100 chief financial officers employed by retailers with annual revenues ranging from $100 million to $100 billion. The survey was conducted in August and September of 2010.