As we enter the post-Thanksgiving holiday shopping season, an industry group estimates sales will rise 6% from 2020.
The Retailers Association of Massachusetts (RAM) released its annual forecast on Monday, which does not match the 9% rise in sales in 2020, nor the National Retail Federation’s forecast of an 8.5% increase to 10, 5% of retail sales.
However, a 6% increase would be the second largest in the past decade, bolstered by fourth-quarter inventories up 4.1% from 2020, according to a survey of RAM members.
Like other industries, retailers have faced multiple hurdles created by the pandemic. According to the survey, RAM members listed inflation, inventory delays and staffing shortages as the top three challenges this season; stores also reported that labor costs increased by 6.7% compared to 2020.
Holiday sales make up about 20% of annual retail sales, according to RAM, which said 60% of its members will offer online sales, down from 50% a year ago and just 29% in 2019.
While nationwide online sales are expected to reach 25% of all retail transactions, RAM said internet sales are expected to represent only 5% of total holiday sales at small retailers in Massachusetts.
In a bid to encourage shoppers to spend their holiday budget locally, Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito joined RAM officials at shoe and music stores in Needham on Monday to launch a campaign urging people to actively think about where they choose to shop.
“A big part of Massachusetts’ economy relies on us all doing our part, so we need to shop like jobs depend on it, because they do,” Baker said in a statement. “By choosing local, you maintain jobs in your community.
The retail sector employs 600,000 people in Massachusetts, according to RAM, which represents 4,000 retailers and restaurants.
Additionally, beginning Monday, a #BuyInMA advertising campaign including radio and digital ads encouraged shoppers to visit BuyInMA.org to learn about promotions and savings available at local stores and restaurants.
And consumers can show their appreciation for retailers in their community this weekend by supporting them on Saturday, November 27 for small businesses.
Launched in 2010 by American Express, it aims to help small businesses gain exposure and encourage local shopping during the holiday season.
In 2013, communities began celebrating the holiday by pledging to support their local businesses and organizations.
According to American Express, when you shop or dine at a local small business, 67 cents of every dollar stays in that community.
Small businesses also provide job opportunities for residents of your community. This is confirmed by federal government data which shows that small local businesses employ 46% of the Massachusetts workforce.
Buying local helps attract businesses to downtowns and town centers, an economic boost that helps them thrive year-round.
This year, Small Business Saturday coincides with Lowell’s City of Lights Parade festivities.
Although the procession of floats and other vehicles to City Hall does not begin until 4:30 p.m., there are many activities and retail opportunities earlier in the day in and around the city center.
And of course, after the illumination of the town hall, which takes place around 6 p.m., revelers can enjoy the many restaurants and entertainment venues downtown.
We urge residents of the Merrimack and Nashoba Valleys, as well as the Fitchburg-Leominster Twin Cities area to support their local retailers this Saturday and throughout the holiday season.