Every year, the holiday season brings in the highest amount of sales for retailers across the board. According to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales can “account for as much as 30% of a retailer’s annual sales.”

During the past 10 years, retailers have seen a 2.5% increase each year, despite the dip caused by the recession from 2006–09. Current estimates expect 2015 retail sales to increase 3.7% ($630.5 billion nationally).

“This should be a great year for retailers. Online sales will see their highest numbers ever, and projections look good for all retail sectors,” said Maryland Retailers Association (MRA) President Cailey Locklair Tolle. “With increased sales comes jobs. Retailers are already the largest private sector employer in the United States, and during the holiday season this year, we will see around 700,000 new seasonal positions created.”

Consumer spending should continue to increase, with consumers spending an average of $802 on holiday gifts, décor and other items in 2014. Electronic shopping will remain the largest sector consumers spend money on, topping $83.2 million in 2014. Gift card sales are projected to continue to grow and have seen a 28% increase since 2006. Legos and Barbie remain at the top of the top sold toys list, although Barbie was dethroned for the first time in 11 years by Disney’s “Frozen” merchandise in 2014.

Despite this positive outlook, many Maryland retailers surveyed felt that consumer confidence will weigh heavily on the amount of sales that happen this year. These retailers were optimistic about sales increasing (most felt they would see between 1% and 3% increase), but the fact remains that ,although consumers may want to spend more, or be open to doing so, their ability to spend may not allow them to. Still relatively fresh off of the recession, consumer concerns about the economy persist.

The MRA is currently participating in a “Shop Local” tour of the state with Comptroller Peter Franchot and continues to encourage shoppers to do so throughout the holiday season and year.

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