Major retailers nationwide reported sales up by 5 percent in January. And Georgia mirrored that trend.
Rick McAllister, President and CEO of the Georgia Retailers Association, says they saw a lot of shoppers hitting the stores for after Christmas sales. But he says that just continues positive growth over the last 18 months.
“Yes we had a very robust holiday season, but also, just in general, hiring is up for permanent, full-time positions, part-time positions. Retailers all over the state of Georgia are increasing their staff.”he says.
McAllister says it was an unusual Christmas season.
“The predictions we made about a 4 to 5 percent increase over the previous year, it took the after Christmas period to make that happen. So there was a lot of rush to purchase after Christmas, taking advantage of all the specials and the close-outs. Using those gift cards.”he says.
McAllister credits strong sales to increasing consumer confidence. He says some retailers have begun expanding.
Roger Tutterow, an economist at Mercer University, says consumer confidence is increasing because more people are working. He says the nation has been adding 150 thousand jobs a month over the last couple of years.
“And gradually we are getting back to a point to where we are digging our way out of the job loss that occurred during the Great Recession. The other issue is the stock market’s done pretty well over the last couple of months. And home prices are clearly moving off their floor. And both of those will contribute to consumer confidence going forward.”he says.
Tutterow says the state appears to be on track to see a 4 percent growth in the economy this year. But he says state revenue projections still need to be cautious.
“The depth of the recession in Georgia was more pronounced than the national average. And revenue dropped quite a bit. So we really have probably two more years before the revenue picture really starts to look normal again for the state.” Tutterow says.