Holiday spending in Alabama to exceed $11.5 billion; 2% growth from last year

The holiday season is officially here, and Alabamians are expected to spend more than ever this year on gifts and other holiday-related purchases. Shoppers in Alabama will spend more than $11.5 billion this year during the holiday shopping months of November and December, based on the Alabama Retail Association’s prediction of taxed sales for those months.

Through October of this year, Alabama averaged 2.1 percent growth in taxable sales each month over the same month last year. In the same period, the state of Alabama has also collected more than $51 million in sales taxes from out-of-state, online-only retailers, who have remitted voluntarily through the Simplified Sellers Use Tax program. The Alabama Retail Association predicts all holiday taxed sales, including those voluntarily remitted, will grow by 2 percent, easily surpassing the $11.43 billion spent in the 2016 holiday shopping period.

Shop Alabama for the Holidays tour
The Alabama Retail Association urges shoppers to Shop Alabama throughout the year, especially during the holiday shopping period. As the busiest shopping weeks of the year approach, the Alabama Retail Association will kick off its annual “Shop Alabama for the Holidays” tour on Friday, Nov. 10. In partnership with local retailers, elected officials and business leaders throughout the state, ARA will host a multi-city news conference tour to encourage Alabamians to spend their holiday shopping and dining dollars locally. Stops on the tour include Cullman, Dothan, Huntsville, Mobile, and Montgomery. The statewide shopping initiative also celebrates the in-store shopping experience with the #BabyItsSoldInside campaign. Brick-and-mortar retail is alive and well for the holiday season. Online shopping only accounts for about 10 percent of overall sales in Alabama.

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 will be the second busiest shopping day of the year, behind the Friday before Christmas, Dec. 22. Super Saturday, which falls on Dec. 23 is expected to be the third busiest day. RetailNext, a firm that tracks retail shopper traffic, attributes that to Black Friday becoming “a month-long shopping event that starts as soon as the trick-or-treaters turn in on Halloween.” 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.

Historical Holiday Spending Numbers
Taxed holiday sales in 2016 in our state totaled $11,431,561,431.08, a jump of 4.77 percent over 2015 holiday sales, according to numbers provided by the Alabama Revenue Department. The National Retail Federation is projecting holiday sales nationwide to reach between $678.8 billion and $682 billion with consumers spending an average of $935.58 each. The NRF numbers based on a consumer survey would mean a 3.6 percent to 4 percent growth in holiday sales.

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.

Melissa Johnson Warnke | 256.338.0621 (c) | 334.551.0631 (o)

Updated Dec. 4, 2017, with October sales tax collections