Rising Wages, Job Growth Cited as Reasons to Expect Brisk Holiday Retail Sales in Ohio

Ohio shoppers are expected to increase holiday spending by 3.2 percent more than last year, as consumer confidence continues to soar, according to a forecast by University of Cincinnati economists.

Jobs, wages, housing prices and other key indicators are all on the uptick, forecasters said. They project retail spending to climb to nearly $24.9 billion.

The annual forecast ahead of Black Friday comes from the University of Cincinnati Economics Center in cooperation with the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants. The economists reported more good news for Ohio, finding that the increase in sales is not just a holiday blip, but part of a long-term trend.

“Full-year retail sales in Ohio have exhibited sustained and robust growth over recent years, but the growth has been distributed across the calendar year and not limited to the holiday season,” the report states. “Ohio’s key economic indicators have shown no signs of weakening over the past year. Real wage and salary growth continues to be positive along with employment growth.”

The Washington-based National Retail Federation trade group says a nationwide survey found that consumers claim they will spend an average of $1,007 during the holiday season, up 4.1 percent from last year’s survey.

David Weiss, a research associate with the University of Cincinnati Economics Center, told the Cincinnati Business Courier that the Ohio estimate is lower for a couple of reasons, neither of which reflects negatively on the state’s economy.

First, Ohio had a 7.4 percent gain in retail sales from 2015 to 2016, much larger than the rest of the country, so the last two years have been an adjustment. Second, the Ohio projection includes January, while some of the national estimates only account for November and December.

By region, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland are expected to account for 54.3 percent of statewide retail sales, while Central Ohio is expected to have one of the lowest growth percentages in the state, projected at just a 1.9 percent increase.

Weiss said that isn’t an indication of a struggling economy, but instead is due to Columbus’ retail sales growth in recent years, which has been higher than other areas of the state.

Ohio is one of the nation’s most important retail distribution hubs, and retail employs more people in Ohio than any other industry, according to Focus on Ohio’s Future.

Read the full study here.

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Anthony Accardi is a writer and reporter for The Ohio Star.

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