MONTGOMERY – The holiday season is officially here, and retailers are ready for their busiest few weeks of the year. This year, the Alabama Retail Association predicts holiday sales in the state could reach as high as $11.4 billion in taxed sales during the months of November and December alone.
Through September of this year, Alabama has averaged 3 percent growth each month over the same month last year. If sales continue along that trajectory, Alabama could reach $11.2 billion in November and December. Tack on the projected Amazon sales and the total goes up to $11.4 billion, the highest on record.
“We are quite optimistic that we will have our best Christmas ever!,” said Margaret Hamm, owner of Monograms Plus in Cullman. “We are thrilled the playing field has been leveled, and that Amazon is no longer being subsidized by our government, by being exempt from sales tax. Alabama certainly needs the tax revenue, and it is nice to see small business score a win!”
With Amazon collecting taxes for the first time ever in Alabama over those two months, the state estimates Alabamians will buy as much as $200 million in taxable merchandise from the online leader during the holiday shopping season. Online sales, while still a small percentage of overall sales, continue to grow faster than in-store brick and mortar sales. The National Retail Federation predicts a 7 percent to 10 percent increase in online shopping over last year, compared to a 3.6 percent increase in overall sales nationwide.
“We feel optimistic, albeit cautiously optimistic, about 2016 holiday sales,” said Ricky Bromberg, chairman of the Alabama Retail Association and president of Bromberg & Co., America’s and Alabama’s oldest family owned retailer. “It’s been a good year, and we’re hoping that continues through the holidays. We are thankful for the customers, new and old, who choose to shop with us.”
Black Friday Appeal
While Black Friday has traditionally been viewed as the busiest shopping day of the year, this year, national retail surveys predict it could be the third busiest shopping day of the year behind Friday, Dec. 23, and Super Saturday, which falls on Dec. 17. RetailNext, a firm that tracks retail shopper traffic, attributes that to retailers launching their post-Thanksgiving sales earlier, making Black Friday stand out less than in years past. Surveys also show that almost half of consumers (49 percent) want to avoid the crowds and stress of last-minute shopping by spreading out their holiday shopping. Alabama’s local retailers hope customers choose to shop small for their purchases.
“When people choose to spend their dollars locally, those dollars go right back into the community,” said Margaret Hamm.
#ShopAlabama for the Holidays
As the busiest shopping days of the year approach, the Alabama Retail Association is launching a statewide #ShopAlabama for the Holidays tour. The multi-city kick off tour is set for Nov. 17, 18, and 21 with stops in Auburn, Dothan, Fairhope, Montgomery, Mountain Brook and Tuscaloosa. Alabama Retail will hold a news conference in each of the six cities in partnership with the local chamber or business association to encourage residents to support the retailers who support their community by shopping local for their holiday purchases. Elected leaders are scheduled to speak.
Historical Holiday Shopping Numbers
In 2015, taxed holiday sales in our state totaled $10.9 billion, a jump of 5.15 percent over the 2014 holiday period, according to Alabama Revenue Department records. That reality exceeded Alabama Retail’s prediction of 4.4 percent growth and close to $11 billion in holiday sales. As it did in 2014, 2015 holiday sales growth in Alabama exceeded the national holiday sales growth. U.S. holiday sales grew 3 percent in 2015, and are expected to grow 3.6 percent this year, according to the National Retail Federation.
The Alabama Retail Association represents retailers, the largest private employer in the state of Alabama, before the Alabama Legislature and the U.S. Congress. Through sales of food, clothing, furniture, medicine and more, our 4,100 independent merchant and national company members touch almost every aspect of daily living. Since 1943, we’ve worked to promote what’s best for the retail industry in Alabama. Whether voicing the retail view when public policy is made, educating members about issues that impact them, negotiating rates for benefits and services or communicating the retail story, the Alabama Retail Association and its members are better together.