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2020 holiday spending hits record 11.6 percent growth

Alabamians spent 11.6 percent more during November and December 2020 than they did during the same period in 2019.

A small business with an "open" sign. (STOCK PHOTO)

Despite the pandemic, holiday sales in Alabama grew by double digits, hitting a record $14 billion, an 11.6 percent growth over the previous year, according to the Alabama Retail Association.

Alabamians spent 11.6 percent more during November and December 2020 than they did during the same period in 2019, the Alabama Retail Association said in a statement Tuesday. This increase represents the highest holiday growth rate on record for Alabama. 

“Alabamians were determined to have happy holidays in a year filled with the adversity and stress of the coronavirus,” said ARA President Rick Brown. “Passage of another stimulus package and the availability of even the limited amount of vaccines in late December also had a positive effect on spending.”

According to ARA, taxed sales in Alabama for November and December reached $14,785,761,846, with monthly spending, both online and in stores in December, exceeded any other month this year in Alabama, and was the most ever in taxed sales in Alabama during December.

“The $14.79 billion in Alabama holiday spending is based on sales tax collections on general merchandise, restaurant and other food service, automobiles, machinery and vending, plus collections made through the state’s Simplified Seller Use Tax (SSUT),” ARA said in their statement. “Alabama Retail defines holiday spending as all taxed sales during the months of November and December.”

Based on the Alabama Revenue Department abstracts reflecting sales for the entire year, sales tax collected statewide grew 7.13 percent, with retailers and other businesses collecting more than $3 billion in sales taxes in 2020, up $203 million more than they did in 2019. Nationally, it grew 8 percent, according to the National Retail Federation. NRF’s data excludes automobiles, gasoline and restaurant sales from its holiday sales numbers. 

Through the state’s SSUT program, remote sellers remitted 14.44 percent of the total sales taxes collected in Alabama in 2020. Online, phone, catalogue and other non-store sales increased 58 percent from 2019. Collections from the other 86 percent of sellers grew almost 4 percent, according to ARA.

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“Consumer spending, especially through retail sales, drives our economy,” said Brown. “Alabama’s retailers, both small and large, continue to invest in their employees and communities, while utilizing all means possible to safely provide ways for Alabama’s consumer to buy the goods they need for daily living.”

Both ARA and NRF predict that as the vaccine rollout expands, both the state and national economies will continue to improve, with NRF forecasting between 6.5 percent and 8.2 percent growth in retail sales nationally in 2021.

John is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can contact him at [email protected] or via Twitter.



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