Kentucky Retail Industry Shows Signs of Improvement

Results from KRF Retail Industry Fall Economic Survey Released

The outlook of Kentucky retailers appears to be slowly improving as the winter holiday shopping season approaches. According to the Kentucky Retail Federation’s latest fall economic survey results, 70 percent of respondents believe their businesses are in either the same or better financial shape than at the same time in 2013.

“This number has been slowly getting better over the last two years,” Tod Griffin, KRF president said “Maybe the retail sector is finally starting to respond to an improving economy.”

Sixty-three percent of respondents indicated their year-to-date sales are equal to or exceeding those of 2013 at this time. However, the cost of goods sold continues to put the squeeze on retailers and yet a small percentage of respondents reported passing the cost onto consumers.

Tax policies, health care costs and a potential increase in the minimum wage were noted as the top three factors currently hindering retail business growth. Consumer confidence was still a top concern on retailers’ ability to grow their business as only 17 percent of respondents believe consumer confidence has increased since June 1.

Kentucky’s retail workforce appears to be stabilizing. Over 60 percent of respondents indicated both their full-time and part-time workforce is staying the same this year with no big changes expected in winter holiday season hiring. For those employers looking to hire though, they are still having a hard time finding qualified applicants with a strong work ethic.

When asked about the coming holiday shopping season, a majority of members planned for the same seasonal inventory as 2013 anticipating equal sales. The vast majority of respondents do not plan to increase store hours during the holidays.

“It looks like the holidays are expected to be solid judging by the responses to this fall’s survey,” said Griffin. “Kentucky’s retail industry is beginning to show signs of improvement.”