(COLUMBUS – November 20, 2023) The Ohio Council of Retail Merchants and University of Cincinnati Economics Center once again forecast increased Ohio holiday retail sales this year with expected total sales of $32.2 billion, a 0.7 percent increase over last year’s holiday season sales of $31.4 billion. This will mark the eleventh consecutive year of growth in forecasted Ohio holiday sales.

“This year’s positive forecast shows the continued vitality of Ohio’s overall economy as we move farther away from COVID’s impact and experience continued growth in key segments of our overall economy,” said Gordon Gough, President & CEO of the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants, which sponsored the study.

Brad Evans, Director of Research for the University of Cincinnati Economics Center added, “As shown in the chart below, of the nine metro regions in our study, seven expect sales growth (Akron, Cincinnati, Columbus, Lima, Mansfield, Toledo and Youngstown) while only two (Cleveland and Dayton) failed to show positive figures.

“In terms of general economic Ohio employment numbers have now exceeded pre-pandemic levels, increasing 2.6 percent during Q3 2023 over pre-pandemic levels in Q1 2020, while wages have increased nearly 19% since COVID first hit in early 2020.

“Among other contributing factors, Midwest inflation increased by 5.7 percent between September 2020 and September 2021 and increased by 8.1 percent between September 2021 and September 2022. However, inflation in the Midwest slowed to 3.2 percent between September 2022 and September 2023. Looking forward, our research indicates inflation will continue to slow,” Evans concluded.

Founded in 1922, the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants is Ohio’s oldest and largest advocate for the retail and wholesale industry, representing more than 7,500 establishments across Ohio. Ohio’s retail and wholesale companies account for 19 percent of Ohio’s total GDP and 1.5 million jobs, 1 in 4 of all Ohio jobs, more than any other industry.