Modest growth forecast for Ohio holiday retail sales

By JOHN SEEWER Markets Associated Press

Ahead of Black Friday and the December sales season, researchers are expecting a modest 2 percent increase in Ohio holiday retail spending compared with last year, according to an annual forecast released Monday.

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Retail spending over the holidays in Ohio is expected to grow by $481 million for an overall total of $24.1 billion this year.

The good news for retailers is that consumer confidence remains strong, and wages and salaries in the state still are growing, according to the annual forecast from the University of Cincinnati Economics Center.

The study's author noted that the predicted modest increase this year would put Ohio's holiday sales at 9.5 percent more than in 2015. There also has been consistent growth since 2013, said Christopher Nicak, the center's co-director of research.

"It seems the retail economy has recovered from the 2008 recession," Nicak said.

The Washington-based National Retail Federation trade group expects holiday sales to at least match the 3.6 percent growth of a year ago.

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Across Ohio, sales outlooks are expected to increase most in the Cleveland, Dayton and Toledo regions. Only the Mansfield area is predicted to see a dip in holiday spending, while not much growth is expected in Columbus.

The state's three biggest metro regions — Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati — account for more than half of all retail spending in state, Nicak said.

By metro area, the growth projections are: Dayton, 3.4 percent; Cleveland, 3.1; Toledo, 2.1; Youngstown, 1.8; Cincinnati, 1.6; Akron, 1.2; Lima, 0.9 and Columbus, 0.0. Mansfield is projected to decline by 1.8 percent.

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.