Alabama’s 2019 holiday sales break all records, growth is three times greater than anticipated

Spending in Alabama during the holiday months of November and December reached an all-time high in 2019.

Estimated taxed sales in our state totaled $13,251,574,690.54 in those two months, a jump of 9.79% over 2018 holiday sales estimates. That growth is more than three times greater than the 3% increase the Alabama Retail Association predicted prior to the traditional holiday shopping months. Nationally, holiday retail sales grew 4.1%*, according to the National Retail Federation.

The $13.25 billion estimate for Alabama sales is based on sales tax collections on general merchandise, restaurant and other food service, automobiles, machinery and vending, plus collections made through the state’s Simplified Seller Use Tax (SSUT). Alabama Retail defines holiday spending as all taxed sales during the months of November and December.

The 2019 holiday shopping season saw a significant increase in the number of remote sellers that remitted sales taxes through Alabama’s SSUT program. Alabama has been receiving tax collections from out-of-state, online-only merchants since 2016, but, beginning in October 2018, those collections applied to a much broader group of retailers selling into our state thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court decision and the state’s economic nexus rule. The number of sellers using the program grew from 1,000 at the end of 2018 to more than 2,300 by the end of 2019. In 2019, Alabama for the first time also required marketplaces that collect for third-party vendors to remit.

State revenue experts expect the growth rate for the simplified sellers’ program to moderate over the next year.

The National Retail Federation forecasts 3.5% to 4.1% growth in retail sales nationally in 2020.

*NRF excludes automobiles, gasoline and restaurant sales from its holiday sales numbers.

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: Nancy King Dennis | 334.551.0643

Originally posted 2:10 p.m. Feb. 13, 2020