2018 holiday sales in Alabama exceed $12 billion, strongest season on record

Updated Feb. 14, 2019, with national holiday sales growth

As predicted, holiday spending in Alabama broke all previous records in 2018. Alabamians spent more than $12 billion during the holiday shopping months of November and December.

Taxed holiday sales in our state totaled $12,069,764,995.28 in 2018, a jump of 2.66 percent over 2017 holiday sales. The final numbers, released Feb. 7 by the Alabama Department of Revenue, fell just shy of the Alabama Retail Association’s pre-season prediction of $12.2 billion. Alabama’s growth also was slightly less than the 2.9 percent holiday sales growth reported nationally. The National Retail Federation predicts the national economy will grow somewhere between 3.8 percent and 4.4 percent in 2019.

Alabama’s early adoption of tax policy related to online sales had a substantial impact on 2018 holiday sales numbers in our state. Alabama has been receiving tax collections from out-of-state, online-only merchants since 2016, but beginning Oct. 1 those collections applied to a much broader group of retailers selling into our state thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court decision and a state tax rule.

Those remote retailers brought $12 million dollars more in new tax revenue into the state during the 2018 holiday season compared with the same period in 2017. The sales reflected in Alabama’s simplified sellers use tax jumped 72.27 percent, or $154.5 million, in November and December 2018, from $213.8 million to $368.3 million. While that growth was tremendous, Alabama holiday sales for the almost 1,000 simplified sellers represent only 3.05 percent of total holiday sales in our state.

Even without the large influx of additional revenue from the simplified sellers use tax, holiday spending grew 1.37 percent over 2017.

The Alabama Revenue Department reports sales tax collections on general merchandise, restaurant and other food service, automobiles, machinery and vending.

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 4,200 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.

MEDIA CONTACT: Melissa Warnke | 334.551.0643

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