Economists are expecting Ohioans to spend $600 million more than they did last year on holiday purchases, according to a forecast released Nov. 23.
The University of Cincinnati's Economics Center and the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants are projecting a 4.2 percent overall sales increase in November and December, slightly higher than actual results in 2014.
"With gas prices 25 percent lower compared to last year's holiday season, consumers should have more disposable income to boost retail spending in spite of new sales tax hikes in several key counties around Ohio, including three of Ohio's more populous counties Hamilton, Lucas and Mahoning," Michael Jones of the University of Cincinnati Economics Center, said in a released statement.
The state numbers are higher than national forecasts. The National Retail Federation has projected a 3.7 percent increase in November and December sales, pushing overall purchases to more than $630 billion.
Holiday sales last year increased 4.1 percent over 2013, according to the national group.
Ohio's low unemployment, wage increases and dropping gasoline prices pushed the state's higher forecast.
Cincinnati and Columbus are expected to lead the state in holiday gains at 5.6 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively.
Youngstown is at the middle of the metropolitan pack, with a 3.6 percent sales increase projection. Akron was near the bottom, at 3.1 percent.
Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland account for more than half of the state's total holiday retail sales.