Holiday shopping season spending expected to surpass previous years

Area malls and shopping destinations will be begin offering extended shopping hours today through the holiday season as projections show consumer spending could smash previous records.

Holiday sales during November and December are forecast to grow between 8.5 percent and 10.5 percent over 2020 to between $843.4 billion and $859 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. Consumers plan to spend an average of $998 on items such as gifts, food, decorations and other holiday-related purchases for themselves and their families.

The numbers, which exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants, compare with a previous high of 8.2 percent in 2020 to $777.3 billion and an average increase of 4.4 percent over the past five years. NRF expects that online and other non-store sales, which are included in the total, will increase between 11 percent and 15 percent to a total of between $218.3 billion and $226.2 billion driven by online purchases.

In comparison, that number is up from $196.7 billion in 2020.

“However, there continues to be a lot of consumer interest in the store experience, particularly heading into this weekend,” Katherine Cullen, NRF’s senior director of industry and consumer insights, told this news outlet Wednesday. “Nearly two-thirds of those planning to shop on Black Friday say they will be heading to stores, up from 51% in 2019. As the end of the season nears and shoppers run into deadlines for online orders, we would expect to see an uptick in in-store shopping, particularly as we approach Super Saturday,” which is the Saturday before Christmas.

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Retail spending in Ohio is forecast to increase 7.3 percent this holiday season compared to the 2020 season, with total sales of $31.4 billion, according to a report prepared for Focus on Ohio’s Future by the Economics Center of the University of Cincinnati.

Compared to 2020, more holiday spending is expected to occur in all nine metro regions analyzed in Ohio. Mansfield (12.4%), Dayton (10.2%) and Cincinnati (5.5%) are projected to experience the largest increase in relevant retail sales in 2021. Ohio’s largest metro areas — Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus — again are expected to account for more than half (51.5%) of estimated holiday relevant retail sales.

Online shopping continues to be a burgeoning part of retail sales, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Growth in non-store retail sales, which includes online and mobile shopping, greatly surpassed overall retail sales growth in Ohio in 2020 compared to 2019, according to the Economics Center. While e-commerce will remain important, households are also expected to shift back to in-store shopping and a more traditional holiday shopping experience, according to NRF.

That’s music to the ears of mall owners nationwide, including the ones behind The Greene Town Center and The Mall at Fairfield Commons in Beavercreek and Dayton Mall in Miami Twp.

Allie West, business development specialist/marketing manager at The Greene, said the popular area shopping destination has “definitely seen an increase in traffic” this holiday season compared to last year during this time.

“We’re excited to be closer to normal this year and are so thankful to be able to bring back our holiday traditions such as the tree lighting and Santa arrival parade, and our Santa photo studio” offering professional photo packages, West said. “We were able to do a couple events this fall, which also brought an increase in traffic to our stores. We’re slowly getting back to normal, and we’ve had a great start to the holiday season this year.”

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The Greene is offering extended hours starting today and through the end of the year. It also is posting sales and promotions for its retailers via its website to ensure shoppers easily find deals, she said.

“As COVID is still present, it has prohibited us from going as “all out” as we typically would for the holiday season,” West said. “While we are getting back on track to what we’ve done in previous years, we still want to ensure the safety of our customers, and therefore are not able to have as many holiday events as we have in the past.”

The Mall at Fairfield Commons and Dayton Mall, both owned by Washington Prime Group, have always been destinations to eat, shop, and play offering a wide selection of dining and entertainment options to unique retail offerings and fun and engaging events, according to LeAnne Rubosky, general manager of The Mall at Fairfield Commons.

“Our town centers will continue to be a place where the community chooses to spend their time,” Rubosky said.

Both malls are extending their hours this weekend and the week before Christmas, Rubosky said. The Mall at Fairfield Commons events include Photos with Santa, Sounds of the Season, Paws & Claus, Santa’s Stories and more. Dayton Mall events include a KidX Ice Princess Event and Photos with Santa and more.

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Consumers continue to fret about supply chain challenges that have been heightened since the start of the pandemic, with early half (47%) of holiday shoppers are concerned they will have difficulty finding items this year, according to NRF.

“Supply chain issues have been top of mind for retailers long before the holiday season and they are doing everything they can to ensure consumers receive the items they need, including moving up their peak shipping season to bring in product earlier than normal and investing in enhanced technology,” Cullen said. “These strategies are paying off.”

Retailers with whom NRF has spoken are cautiously optimistic about their inventory levels, she said. From a consumer perspective, more than half (58%) of holiday shoppers are confident they will be able to eventually find the gifts and other items they need for this season.

“We continue to encourage consumers to start their holiday shopping as early as possible to avoid shortages and delays,” Cullen said.

By The Numbers: 2021 Holiday Consumer Spending and Celebration Plans

Between 8.5 percent and 10.5 percent: projected percentage of growth of retail sales in November and December

Between $843.4 billion and $859 billion: projected amount of retail sales in November and December

$998: Amount consumers plan to spend on average for holiday gifts and other items

$648: Amount consumers plan to spend on average for gifts for family, friends and co-workers

$231: Amount consumers plan to spend on average for non-gift holiday items such as food and decorations

$118: Amount consumers plan to spend on average for other non-gift purchases for self or family

57%: percentage of consumers who plan to shop online

47%: percentage of consumers who plan to shop a department store

24%: percentage of consumers who plan to shop a local or small business

Source: NRF’s Annual October Holiday Consumer Survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics

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