Like any cause and effect, as Arizona’s population continues to rise, the economy continues to change. Experts at the University of Arizona say that the largest change is expected to be in retail as it grows into the 2023 season.

According to the Eller College of Management’s Economic Outlook, retail across the state is forecasted to be 2.5% higher in 2023 reaching a total of 167 million dollars, than the current 2022 total of 148 million, (Hammond, 2022). However, with the projected growth in the coming years, local retailers are skeptical of this prediction.

The economic baseline scenario shows the retail sales percentages have been soaring at an increasing rate since the year 2020. Despite the years of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the effect that it had on the economy, retailers in Arizona say that their sales were at their peak during the shutdown and have since begun to decline.

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Zac Lopez, an employee at State Forty Eight, a local company who specializes in clothing apparel and merchandise inspired by and promoting the state of Arizona, spoke about the business’s rise and decline from the years pre-pandemic through the current year.

“Prior to COVID, we were sending out shipments of roughly 700 boxes a month, but during the shutdown, our sales skyrocketed,” Lopez said. “The first week of the shutdown, our orders went from 700 to 1500 orders.”

The business got creative and took the extra material from their apparel to make masks for customers, and threw in a free one every order, as an incentive to buy more.

However, Lopez stated that as times have begun to shift into the “new normal” their sales have slowly decreased.

“The costs of our materials and other goods have increased, and unfortunately it causes a domino effect,” said Lopez. “Even the boxes we ship with are becoming more expensive. So therefore, our shipping prices are higher, and people are not buying at the same rate.”

Similarly, Jayson Stebbins, an employee at a clothing and coffee store located in Glendale, Arizona, called District 48 reported having a comparable experience.

“Business began to slow around August of 2019, right before the pandemic hit, but from May 2020, through the end of 2021 we had record high numbers,” Stebbins said. “Now that we are into 2022, our sales have started to go back to where we were pre-pandemic. Those two years were phenomenal during what was supposed to be the worst years.”

Speaking with customer Gary DiTomaso at The District 48 pop up booth, DiTomaso was not surprised by the projected numbers.

“I personally am looking forward to Christmas shopping, and even going overboard this year,” DiTomaso said. “I think everyone is excited to have the opportunity to go back out and shop, and don’t mind spending a little bit more, especially when it supports small businesses here locally.”

With Arizona being amidst the five fastest-growing states in America, and the city of Phoenix topping the charts as the number one fastest-growing in the U.S. for the fifth year in a row, economic spending will undoubtedly continue to develop.

Be that as it may, it will be interesting to see how the projected statistics end up relating to the total spending actually incurred.

Expert Professors at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management as well as Phoenix’s Community and Economic Executive Team were contacted and asked for comment, however no response has been received as of this time.