Md retailers are predicting flat sales.
Annapolis, Md (KM) Many store owners in Maryland are not as upbeat about holiday sales as in past year. A survey by the Maryland Retailers Association has found that many of its members are predicting a 1% jump in sales during the Christmas Season, with a majority forecasting sales to be flat.
MRA President Cailey Locklair Tolle says it’s due to many consumers doing their shopping on line, instead at traditional brick and mortar retailers. “And as the years go on, it’s no secret that shoppers now are shopping more and more on line,” she said. “We’re seeing that pretty persistent trend.”
“Lot of our smaller retailers, specifically, are very discouraged by this,” says Locklair Tolle. “And it’s tough because when a consumer has a choice to purchase an item with free shipping and no sale tax, or to pay sales tax in our state on an item, more and more consumers are going on line.”
As a result of that, fewer retailers are not taking on extra employees to help out during the holidays. “With retailers thinking that they’re not going to see so much of an increase, they’re not hiring in the way that they have previously,” Locklair Tolle said.
This trend toward on line sales is impacting the traditional stores’ bottom line. “For many retailers, up to 30% of their sales year-round happen at Christmas,” Locklair Tolle says “And with losses to on line sales, that threatens their ability to remain open.”
But many brick-and-mortar retailers are also selling their products on line. Other stores are making an effort to compete against on line sales by making shopping at their establishments an experience, rather than another shopping trip. “Creating a very personal in-store experience is so incredibly important now. And stores that are not creating personal experiences with the consumers, are not surviving,” Locklair Tarr says.
She says many local retailers are important to their communities because the sales tax they pay helps state and local governments pay for services to citizens.
The National Retail Federation is projecting a 3.6% increase in sales across the country during the holiday period. Locklair Tolle says the Federation combines brick mortar sales and on line sales to come up with this forecast. She says the MRA only counts traditional retailers when it conducts its survey.
By Kevin McManus