Rising employment will likely encourage consumers to spend more this year, although higher gas prices will cut into their disposable income.

Retail sales could get as much as a 10% boost in sales for March and April because they expect people who filed their taxes early to spend their refunds very shortly after receiving them.

The last full data set that we have is from 2010 and 2011 (for tax years 2009 and 2010) and in those years approximately 14M to 15M tax payers filed before February 2 with 12 to 13M refunds distributed by the IRS during that period. Hence, around 85% of “early filers” for the month of January received refunds and the average refund was approximately $3,000. The cumulative dollar amount of refunds paid out by the IRS in the first month of the year was approximately $39B. Assuming that the entire refund was spent in the same month, the delayed refunds would have accounted for almost 10% of total retail sales in January ($382B). Hence, in addition to a potential weather-related snapback in February, a glut of refunds for “early filers” could also boost sales.

Many indicators, including a record-setting 2011, show the firearms industry continues to thrive in a down economy and that the potential exists for another strong sales year in 2012, reports the National Shooting Sports Foundation?, the trade association for the firearm industry.

The $4 billion firearms and ammunition industry stands apart from other industries that are struggling in the slow economy. Demand for guns has continued at a robust pace since late 2008. NSSF estimates the industry is responsible for approximately 180,000 jobs and has impact on the U.S. economy of $28 billion.

Indicators such as background-check statistics, firearms production and importation, firearm-retailer surveys and on-the-ground reports from retailers nationwide reveal that interest in firearm ownership is high.

Credit card processing and merchant account industry experts ecommerce sales to grow 10%-12% for the remainder of 2012.

John Hickman is a credit card processing specialist and assists merchant accounts companies.