For Immediate Release
Contact: Patrick Donoho
Better Sales This Holiday Season Expected
“Retailers are hopeful for a gain in holiday sales this year.” said Maryland Retailers Association’s (MRA) President Patrick Donoho. He indicated that retailers are estimating a cautiously optimistic increase in the 3.0% to 3.5% range.
Mr. Donoho highlighted an increase in consumer confidence, lower gasoline prices, and slight increase in inventory levels as positive signs for the upcoming holiday sales. “The overall economy in Maryland is slowly improving, but wage growth has been sluggish,” he said. “Working families are still living from pay check to pay check. But they are starting to feel more financially secure as shown in the rise in consumer confidence. Lower gasoline prices have helped them too.” The last two years have seen modest increases in holiday shopping in Maryland with increases of about 2.5%. This year, it is expected to rise at a slightly better rate (3.0% – 3.5%) but still lag behind national projections of 4.0%, because of the sluggish wage growth.
MRA urges Maryland shoppers to support their local economy by shopping Maryland retailers. Mr. Donoho stated, “Maryland retailers are a vital part of our communities and are often our friends and neighbors.” Retailers are the largest private sector employer in Maryland.
Retailers will be promoting their holiday sales in a wider variety of venues this season. With increased competition from a variety of sources (neighboring states without/lower sales taxes to internet sales), shopping local retailers will not only help the communities of Maryland but the state budget as well with increased sales tax revenue that would be lost to internet sales or neighboring states. With Amazon opening a distribution center in Maryland, some of that lost revenue will be captured this season as Amazon begins collecting and remitting sales taxes for purchases made by Maryland consumers. Consumers should be reminded that they are required to pay the sales tax on purchases made online, if it is not collected by the online retailer, by January 20, 2015, by using the following tax form: http://forms.marylandtaxes.com/12_forms/ST-118A.pdf
Bargain shoppers also will not be disappointed. “Our members know that price matters and will aggressively compete for consumers’ business,” Donoho said. In addition, many retailers have improved their e-commerce promotions and sales to compete for online sales. Consumers will be able to have a multitude of choices this holiday season.
MRA’s forecast is based upon a survey of its members and a review of retail industry data and economic indicators. This year’s MRA survey of members continues the positive outlook for holiday sales from last year. “Many of our members are predicting slight growth in the 2% to 5% range this year,” indicated Donoho. “They know their markets extremely well and tend to be very accurate in their outlook.”
The Maryland Retailers Association is the retail community’s major statewide trade association in Maryland. MRA’s membership at some 1400 locations encompasses all segments of the retail industry and includes both local independent merchants and regional and national chains.
Holiday sales are measured as sales in the GAFS category: general merchandise, clothing and clothing accessories, jewelry, furniture and home furnishings, electronics and appliances, hobby, book and music and building and garden equipment.
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