Retail holiday sales should increase over the 2018 holiday season between 3.8 and 4.2% according to the National Retail Federation. Since 2009, sales in the industry have grown each year from 2 to 5% annually, according to a press release from the Maryland Retailers Association. This year, despite many factors influencing economic unease such as political rhetoric, interest rates and global risk factors, consumers have experienced job growth and higher wages, resulting in a willingness to spend, according to the release. Online sales are also set to increase between 11 and 14%.

“Although online sales continue to boom and are a huge part of holiday shopping, brick and mortar is doing well,” said Cailey Locklair, president of the Maryland Retailers Association. “Consumers should be reminded to support local stores as much as possible as they impact our communities with jobs and tax revenue to support the things we all care about.”

Consumer spending will continue to increase with a projected average of $1,048 on holiday gifts, decor and other items. Gift cards remain the top item on consumer wish lists, followed by clothing, books and electronics. This year, data from NRF’s consumer survey showed that a majority of consumers plan to purchase online with department and discount store locations closely behind.

For the past couple of years, businesses across Maryland were cautiously optimistic about the holiday season. However, the majority of retail association members felt they would have stronger holiday seasons this year when surveyed, according to the release. Many retailers are banking on higher consumer traffic on exclusive sales, click and ship to their stores for pick up as well as personal, in-store experiences that cannot be replicated via online shopping.

“Consumers should also be aware, brick and mortar is finally on a level playing field with online sellers,” Locklair said in the release. “All online sellers and third parties through marketplaces like Amazon and e-Bay must legally collect and remit sales tax now.”

MRA’s holiday forecast is based on member surveys in conjunction with a review of the National Retail Federation’s holiday forecast, consumer trends and historical retail sales data.