Slower growth forecast for Ohio holiday retail sales, but Lima expects surge


By Dan Sewell - Associated Press



CINCINNATI — Holiday retail spending growth is slowing in Ohio, according to an annual forecast released Monday ahead of Black Friday and other seasonal sales.

Researchers are expecting a 1.54 percent increase in the November-December period, a projected rise over last year of $500 million to $22.2 billion. The University of Cincinnati Economics Center indicates slower growth than in recent years. Last year’s total rise was some 2.2 percent, after an increase of some 4 percent reported the previous year.

“Steady growth … for the holiday retail sales within Ohio this year, although it is slower than in previous years,” study author Jennifer Shand of UC said.

Sales outlooks are stronger in Youngstown, Mansfield and Lima than statewide or in Ohio’s largest metro regions. By metro area, the growth projections are: Youngstown, 6.2 percent; Mansfield 4.9; Lima 3.3; Columbus 3.1, Cincinnati 3; Cleveland and Akron 2.1 each; Dayton 1.7 and Toledo 0.5.

She said consumer shifts to spending for entertainment, travel and other experiences rather than buying goods could be a factor, besides continued mobile and online sales growth that includes spending with out-of-state retailers. There’s also been a leveling-off in some economic measures after post-recession rises.

The forecast in conjunction with the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants uses sales data, employment and wage figures, consumer confidence and a variety of other economic indicators to project spending.

The auto club AAA expects Ohioans’ Thanksgiving holiday travel activity to be at its highest level since 2005.

The Washington-based National Retail Federation expects holiday spending this year to be up across the country by 3.6 percent, to $655.8 billion. Growth a year ago was 3 percent.

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By Dan Sewell

Associated Press

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