Local business leaders say they expect the Shoals to be right in line with state and national indicators that are pointing to a successful Christmas shopping season.
The National Retail Federation is forecasting a 6% to 8% growth in sales over the 2021 season, while the Alabama Retail Association expects a 5% growth statewide.
Those predictions are no surprise to Shoals Chamber of Commerce President Caitlin Holland, who has been talking with local retailers ahead of today's annual Black Friday.
"Everyone is expecting a really great holiday season," Holland said.
She said she noticed a renewed appreciation for shopping locally since the COVID pandemic, including experiencing the Christmassy feel of being out and about during the 2021 season.
"The pandemic taught us a lot about the importance of local businesses and shopping local and shopping small," Holland said. "I don't think we'll ever take crowds and being around others for granted again."
Chris Stangel, executive director of the Downtown Florence Alliance, said the feedback he has heard from business owners is they are expecting a good season, and want to use that as a catalyst to remind Shoals residents to shop locally throughout the year.
"They are excited about the opportunity," Stangel said. "We're working together on a bigger message and that is really expanding this out to not just shop locally for one day or one week but really a mindset of let's look locally all year.
"This is going to be a positive season, but we really want to fold it into a bigger message of that dollar you spend locally turns over locally."
As part of that effort, downtown Florence businesses are organizing a Downtown Christmas day on Dec. 9. The event is from 3 to 6:30 p.m. and includes a chance to visit Santa and Mrs. Claus. That is in addition to the nationwide Small Business Saturday this Saturday.
The state Retail Association anticipates retailers will take in $17.9 billion statewide in the last two months of the year.
The total was $17 billion during that period in 2021, which was a record year, according to the association.
Through September of this year, taxed sales in Alabama have increased by 8.4% over the same nine months in 2021, according to the association.
Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown encourages shoppers to use local retailers.
“The stores down the street or around the corner support your community in big and small ways daily,” Brown said. “By shopping with retailers based in your community or our state, you contribute to the health of your local and state economies.”
The National Retail Federation forecasts $942.6 billion to $960.4 billion being spent this season.
“While consumers are feeling the pressure of inflation and higher prices, and while there is continued stratification with consumer spending and behavior among households at different income levels, consumers remain resilient and continue to engage in commerce,” national federation President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “In the face of these challenges, many households will supplement spending with savings and credit to provide a cushion and result in a positive holiday season.”