Retail researchers expect sales at Ohio stores to be up this holiday shopping season.
Ohio Public Radio's Andy Chow reports.
'Tis the season for some major shopping.
The University of Cincinnati’s Economics Center predicts a big spike in retail sales for the 2013 holiday season, with the help of a busy Black Friday. Senior researcher Jeff Rexhausen says Ohio retailers will see a 3.5% increase in sales this November and December compared to last year.
There are several key factors to the bump in numbers. Rexhausen says every month this year saw increased sales compared to the same month in 2012.
Recent gains in the stock market and lower gas prices are also main indicators of a successful Christmas sales season.
Rexhausen: “There are some other factors as well, that wages and salaries are increasing in Ohio. We’ve also seen some strong gains in housing market prices as well as the timing for people to be able to sell their homes so the demand is picking up to catch up with supply.”
Rexhausen warned that there are some headwinds that could damper the shopping season. He says consumer confidence is declining and the political uncertainty in Washington, DC isn’t helping either. But he says a major roadblock to a big season for storefronts is a continued increase in Internet sales.
According to Rexhausen, Ohioans are expected to spend nearly $1 billion in online shopping. That’s $1 billion on items without a sales tax. Rexhausen says this means state and local governments are missing out on $70 million in tax revenue.
The University of Cincinnati’s Economics Center broke down the predicted spending in the large urban areas. The three cities expecting the biggest increase in sales are also the three largest in Ohio; Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus. The capital city is predicted to see the biggest jump in numbers, a 4.4% increase. Rexhausen says those numbers are up because job growth is up.
Rexhausen: “And then we see some of the metropolitan areas that have struggled more in this recovery period where employment growth has not kept up—in Akron and Dayton and Youngstown—we don’t expect to see as much of an increase in holiday retail sales.”
Rexhausen says they did not mock up any predictions on how successful Black Friday could be. He adds that there will still be good deals out there if you don’t want to take on the crowds.
Rexhausen: “For shoppers that are looking for bargains—there are still a lot of really good values on other days. And another thing would be—retailers have hired a lot of sales associates so that first week of December and Wednesdays in general are going to be some good days to get some help if you’re looking for what’s just the right gift.”
Research shows that early sales numbers are already up as more and more stores start their Christmas shopping promotions earlier in November.