Alabama to Top $9 Billion in Holiday Buying in 2014

Alabama consumers will make $9.15 billion in taxed purchases during the 2014 holiday shopping season, the Alabama Retail Association projects.

Our state experienced an almost 2.7 percent increase in retail sales through October of this year and has averaged 2.6 percent growth each month over the same month in the previous year.

HolidayGiftShopCoverIf sales continue along that trajectory, Alabama will break the $9 billion mark for November and December combined sales for the first time since 2006 and 2007.

During the 2013 holiday season, Alabama consumers made $8.92 billion in taxed purchases during November and December, a 2 percent growth over the 2012 holiday season, according to Alabama Department of Revenue figures.

The National Retail Federation projects a nearly 4.1 percent growth in holiday sales nationwide, or $616.9 billion in total sales for the 2014 holiday shopping season.

NRF also projects an 8 percent to 11 percent growth in online holiday sales this year. Dr. Bob Robicheaux with the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business and author of the 2012 study, “Estimates of Alabama Losses Due to E-Commerce,” puts that increase even higher at 12 percent. He estimates out-of-state, online-only retailers, will sell more than $900 million in merchandise to Alabamians during the holiday season without collecting the sales taxes owed.  If his estimation proves true, it pushes Alabama’s 2014 holiday sales over $10 billion.

Alabama Retail and many of its member retailers are pushing for Congress to require all retailers – online, catalog and brick-and-mortar – to collect and remit sales taxes. Current federal policy allows certain remote sellers to make sales without collecting the owed sales tax from the consumer. That unfair tax policy gives certain competitors as much as a 10 percent advantage over Alabama’s hometown retailers. Congress can fix this blatantly unfair tax policy and should do so now.