12/23/2015 2:23:55 PM
As last-minute shoppers rush home with their treasures, retail trade establishments have rung up the sales. According to recent data from the National Retail Federation, "holiday shoppers in November were out in full force," leading to a 3.0 percent increase in 2015 over 2014, which the NRF said was the "best holiday sales season since 2011."
While updated statewide data isn't available yet, past data from the Minnesota Department of Revenue's Sales and Use Tax Statistics program shows that retail sales were rising since 2011 in the 23-county Southwest Minnesota planning region as well. Checking in at just under $4.5 billion in 2010, retail sales in the region surpassed $5.25 billion in 2013, a rosy 17.1 percent increase over the past four years (Figure 1).
The rise in sales has led to a corresponding increase in retail trade employment, which was the third largest employing industry in Southwest Minnesota, behind manufacturing and health care and social assistance. Through the second quarter of 2015, retail trade provided just over 20,000 jobs at 1,566 retail trade establishments, paying out nearly $110 million in quarterly wages. At that level, retailers accounted for one in every nine jobs in the region and about 7 percent of total payroll.
Retail trade shows a consistent seasonal employment trend, starting low in the first quarter of each year and then rapidly ramping up before peaking in the fourth quarter of each year to meet the demands of the holiday shopping season.
Due to increased demand, retail stores added 123 net new jobs over the past year, a steady 0.6 percent increase; and 520 jobs since the second quarter of 2010, a 2.6 percent increase. That matched job growth in the total of all industries, which also expanded 2.6 percent from 2010 to 2015 (Figure 2).
Retailers will likely start to cut jobs once the holiday season concludes, dropping back to a first-quarter low before building payrolls back up in successive quarters. In addition, as the overall economy continues to expand and consumers continue to gain confidence, 2015 is shaping up to be a growing year for shoppers and retail establishments in Southwest Minnesota.