Retail holiday sales should increase between 6-8% this year from the 2021 holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation. Sales in the industry have grown an average of 4.9% each year since 2009 and reached record-breaking growth of 13.5% in 2021, resulting in a generally positive yearly overall outlook from consumers year after year.

Online sales are also set to increase, between 10-12% again, as consumers grow ever more accustomed to digital channels.

“Although online sales continue to boom and have become a large 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.”

Due to budgeting, crowds and inflation concerns, almost half of consumers started shopping for the holidays before November. Consumer spending is slightly down from last year with a projected average of $832.84 on holiday gifts, décor and other items, but is consistent with average spending during the last 10 years.

Clothing and accessories, books/other media, and gift cards are slated to be the highest spend categories, as in other years. Data from NRF’s consumer survey showed that a majority of consumers plan to spend for the holidays online and at discount and department stores. Grocery, clothing and independent stores followed closely behind.

For the past several years, businesses across Maryland have been cautiously optimistic about the holiday season; however, the majority of MRA members felt they would have “strong holiday seasons this year” when surveyed for the past two years. Many retailers are banking on higher consumer traffic on exclusive sales and click-and-ship to their stores for pick-up, as well as personal, in-store experiences that cannot be replicated online. Top concerns MRA members cited included inflation, supply chain issues and weather.

“Shopping began earlier than ever this year with concerns centering around inflation,” said Locklair. “Retailers were ready with many sales kicking off early this year and they made it easier than ever to receive similar in-store discounts online. Retailers have responded well to the desire by consumers to start early and will offer excellent deals online and in brick-and-mortar through Christmas.”
MRA’s holiday forecast is based on member surveys in conjunction with a review of the NRF’s holiday forecast, consumer trends and historical retail sales data.