HOMEWOOD, Ala. (WIAT) – The Alabama Retail Association is expecting another big holiday turnout with a projection of $15 billion this year.

Nancy Dennis with the association says they’ve seen continued growth in 2019 and 2020.

“2020 exceeded 2019. And so, 2021 is going to exceed in 2021,” Dennis said.

The news of the potential increase is welcoming to many retailers, including local shops. Shaia’s in Homewood owner Ken Shaia says they stay pretty consistent around the holiday season.

“For us, it’s been more consistent. Season in and season out,” Sheia said.

He says they have already stocked up for the holiday season; however, some good items aren’t staying on the shelves.

“I would definitely say our inventory, especially in sports wear, our inventory has gone through and sold very quickly,” Sheia said.

He says the recent supply chain issues haven’t drastically impacted his store, but knows others aren’t as lucky. But given current trends, he believes next year could potentially be different.

“Because we are already seeing shortages for wool and other raw materials,” Sheia said.

Besides the supply chain, many retailers across Alabama and the country are experiencing labor shortages as well.

“You businesses don’t have enough employees to either keep the hours that they want. Or to adequately staff their business,” Tara Hutchinson with the Department of Labor said.

Hutchinson says they have improved those numbers recently, the issues of labor within retail were there long before the pandemic.

“There’s not an overnight easy fix solution to this problem. Which again, is a nation wide problem,” Hutchinson said.

But despite the challenges, retail continues to improve nearly 20% since last year.

“And for the past three months, our sales are up 12%,” Dennis said.

Because all local stores are hoping for another great holiday season.

“Because I believe that the community and the fabric of these stores makes up the neighborhoods,” Sheia said.

Dennis says it’s best to go ahead and start holiday shopping. It’s also not a bad idea to plan accordingly before heading to the store or shopping online.