Record $14 billion spent during holidays in Alabama; Sales for all of 2020 grew 7%; 2021 should see similar growth

For the first time ever, holiday sales in Alabama grew by double digits over the previous year.

Amid a pandemic, Alabamians spent 11.6% more during November and December 2020 than they did during the same period in 2019. That represents the highest holiday growth rate on record for our state.

Taxed sales in Alabama for those two months reached $14,785,761,846. Nationally, holiday retail sales grew 8%*, according to the National Retail Federation.

The $14.79 billion in Alabama holiday spending 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.

Monthly spending both online and in stores in December exceeded any other month this year in Alabama. December’s sales numbers beat every other December ever in Alabama.

Alabamians were determined to have happy holidays in a year filled with the adversity and stress of the coronavirus,” said Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown. “Passage of another stimulus package and the availability of even the limited amount of vaccines in late December also had a positive effect on spending.”

Sales tax collections in Alabama grew 7.13% for the entire year, based on the Alabama Revenue Department abstracts reflecting 2020 sales.  Retailers and other businesses collected more than $3 billion in sales taxes from Alabamians in 2020, almost $203 million more than they did in 2019.

Remote sellers remitted 14.44% of the total sales taxes collected in Alabama in 2020 through the state’s SSUT program. Those online, phone, catalogue and other non-store sales grew 58% over 2019 in Alabama. Collections from the other 86% of sellers grew almost 4%.

The National Retail Federation today forecast between 6.5% and 8.2% growth in retail sales nationally in 2021. As the vaccine rollout expands, both the state and national economies will continue to improve, Alabama Retail Association and NRF predict.

Consumer spending, especially through retail sales, drives our economy,” said Brown. “Alabama’s retailers, both small and large, continue to invest in their employees and communities, while utilizing all means possible to safely provide ways for Alabama’s consumer to buy the goods they need for daily living.”

*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 4,300 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 | 334.868.2195

Originally posted 12:15 p.m. Feb. 24, 2021