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Ohio holiday shopping forecast up, growth uneven

CINCINNATI (AP) — Retail researchers expect sales to be up this holiday shopping season for Ohio businesses, according to an annual forecast released Monday.

However, the forecast by the University of Cincinnati Economics Center indicates uneven sales growth around the state, with more than half of the retail spending expected to come in the Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati areas.

Sales are projected to be up only slightly in the Youngstown region, and roughly flat in the Akron and Dayton areas.

Overall, the forecast projects $14.9 billion in retail sales for November to December, up 3.5 percent from the same period last year. The forecast, done in conjunction with the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants, uses sales tax data and other factors in its forecasting model.

An improved housing market in Ohio, lower gas prices, and recent stock market gains help brighten the outlook for retail spending, said UC researcher Jeff Rexhausen. There has also been steady monthly growth in this year's retail spending over last year's.

"Momentum was a big factor in driving our forecast," Rexhausen said.

In percentage growth expected, Columbus led at 4.4 percent, followed by Cleveland and Toledo with 3.8, and the Ohio portion of the Cincinnati region at 3.4. Expected to lag behind are Youngstown at 1.4, Akron at 0.4 and Dayton at 0.1.

The forecast says that increasing use of Internet sites for holiday shopping will continue to bite into retailers' sales.

An earlier Deloitte LLP survey of Ohio shoppers found many consumers were feeling optimistic about the economy heading into the holiday shopping season and expected to spend more this year.

Jim Ellerhorst, a Cincinnati-based partner in Deloitte's retail practice, said its research has found plans for increasing use of smartphones in shopping.

 

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