MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Many stores already are decorated for the Christmas shopping season and pushing holiday sales, and that could help Alabama retailers avoid a pandemic slump.

A statement from the Alabama Retail Association says holiday sales are expected to hold steady or grow a little from 2019, which would be good news for stores as coronavirus cases worsen across the state.

The group says sale tax reports from the Alabama Revenue Department show state consumers spent nearly 8% more through this September than last despite disruptions caused by economic shutdowns linked to the coronavirus.

Nancy Dennis, a spokesperson for the trade association, said local stores are doing more to attract customers who might otherwise rely on online retailers like Amazon.

“They are sharing on a daily basis products on their social media, through email blasts, through all the ways that they’ve been communicating with their customers all along,” said Dennis.

Holiday shopping reached an all-time high of $13.25 billion in Alabama during the final two months of 2019.

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