Md. Retailers Association pro projects a jump in sales this year.
Annapolis, Md (KM). Retailers are optimistic about holiday sales this year. That’s according to Cailey Locklair, the President of the Maryland Retailers Association. She says sales are expected to increase between 3.8% and 4.2% this year. “Consumers have experienced job growth and higher wages, and are really willing to spend this year at a higher level then we’ve seen. So it’s really exciting,” she says. “And then, of course, online, you’re going to see some major increases as well.”
The National Retail Federation says sales have grown each year since 2009 to between 2% and 5% annually.
Even though online sales are expected to increase by 14% this year, Locklair says brick and mortar stores are also expected to do well. :”Online sales are growing, but in reality when you look at an entire year’s worth of sales, online sales are only accounting for about 13% of all retail sales. So that’s kind of important to keep in mind,” she says.
Locklair also says traditional retailers have responded to the challenge from online sales by making a trip to their stores “an experience” as opposed to just buying a product. “Doing things that you’re not going to be able to do online. So whether it’s midnight madness and champagne and strawberries and an extra percentage off that you can’t even find online, all of that is really going to feed into where consumers want to spend their money this year,” she says.
In addition, says Locklair, many brick and mortar retailers have been using “click and pickup,”: where customers order a product online, and pick it up at their local store.
Along with that, she says traditional retailers are often the place where customers can do some last-minute shopping during the holidays. “You’re not going to be guaranteed that an item that’s going to show up in time to give it to somebody,” says Locklair. “So that ‘click and pickup’ model has been very successful, and I think many consumers will use that this year.”
She also says many local retailers support their communities through such activities as hosting fundraisers and sponsoring little league teams. “When you think about philanthropy or neighborhood stabilization or tax revenue to pay for the things that we all care about, that’s coming from your neighborhood brick and mortar stores both big and small,” says Locklair.
Like last year, she says the hottest items for sale this holiday shopping season are gift cards, clothing, books and electronics. As for toys, a long time staple of the Holidays, Locklair says it’s “Barbie Classic, always at the very top for girls. We see a lot of Legos, cars, products like that for boys,” she says.
By Kevin McManus