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Alabama holiday shoppers expected to spend more this year than last

According to the Alabama Retail Association, Alabama shoppers are slated to spend $362 million more this holiday season than last year, representing a 3 percent increase over the $12 billion spent during the 2018 shopping season.

For Selma-Dallas County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sheryl Smedley, local businesses are already gearing up for the season and tax numbers indicate that shoppers are parting with more money.

“Any store you go into, you can see the signs of the holiday merchandise coming out,” Smedley said, noting that for every $100 spent locally, $68 returns to the community.

Contrasting that with the $43 that returns to the community when $100 is spent with corporate retailers is a sign of how important local businesses are to the local economy, Smedley said.

“I’m just encouraged people are shopping locally,” Smedley said. “Brick and mortar retailers aren’t going away. These retailers are revamping their stores, they’re downsizing but still offering quality merchandise. When you go shopping now, you kind of want an experience.”

Smedley pointed to retailers like Nike, which has installed running tracks in some of its stores so that customers can try out their new footwear, and Patagonia, which is offering workshops, yoga classes, environmental discussions and more at its stores.

Though similar offerings have not cropped up in Selma yet, Smedley noted that city and county reports indicate that shoppers are spending.

Sales tax revenues are up in both the city and county and the Seller’s Use tax, which taxes e-commerce transactions, has also proven to be a boon for the area.

“Our sales tax is what keeps our community going,” Smedley said. “Small business are so important to that. Selma has more locally-owned stores than name brand stores and they believe in the community and give back to the community in both time and financial resources.”

Local shoppers will have an opportunity to support those businesses on Nov. 30, which is Small Business Saturday.

“Even though it’s on the same day as the Iron Bowl, retailers will be open for shoppers to shop before the game,” Smedley said. “Small Business Saturday is an initiative started by American Express to promote local stores and encourage people to shop locally.The Chamber encourages the community to shop local first and take advantage of all retailers’ promotional offerings this holiday season, as well as all year long.”