Forecast predicts 1.3 percent up in holiday retail


Staff report

YOUNGSTOWN

Retail shopping in Ohio is expected to increase for the holiday season from last year.

The Ohio Council of Retail Merchants’ research arm, Focus on Ohio’s Future, and the University of Cincinnati’s Economics Center released their fifth Ohio Holiday Spending Forecast for 2014 on Monday.

“We feel very optimistic about this year’s forecast,” said Michael Jones, director of research at the University of Cincinnati Economics Center.

Jones, however, said Internet shopping continues to increase. In 2013, Ohio consumers spent nearly $1 billion during the holiday period at Internet retailers’ websites.

On the other hand, retail spending for Ohio in November and December is expected to increase by 4.5 percent from last year. Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus made up more than half of Ohio’s retail sales. As for the Youngstown metropolitan statistical area, holiday spending is forecast to increase by 1.3 percent at $480 million, which accounts for 3.3 percent of the state’s retail sales.

Jones said employment levels were the prime factor in their forecasts, along with others.

“Gasoline prices have continued to drop,” and consumer confidence is at a seven-year high, he added.

“They’re feeling better about the economy,” Jones said. “This is one of the strongest forecasts that we done over the last five years.”

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