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NRF Predicts Strong Holiday Shopping Season Despite Economic Headwinds

Written by Rob Stott

November 11, 2022

Even as inflation continues to pinch consumers’ budgets, the National Retail Federation remains confident that other economic indicators point to retailers having a strong holiday season in 2022. The association estimated that retail sales in November and December will grow between 6 and 8 percent compared to last year to between $924.6 billion and $960.4 billion. That’s slower than the 13.5 percent growth seen in 2021 compared to 2020, but still above the 4.9 percent average growth seen over the past 10 years.

NRF predicts that consumers will spend roughly $833 per person this on gifts and other holiday items.

“While consumers are feeling the pressure of inflation and higher prices, and while there is continued stratification with consumer spending and behavior among households at different income levels, consumers remain resilient and continue to engage in commerce,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “In the face of these challenges, many households will supplement spending with savings and credit to provide a cushion and result in a positive holiday season.”

The predicted increase in retail sales during the final two months of the year comes even as consumers started their holiday shopping much earlier this year. That’s a trend that’s been years in the making, but NRF data shows consumers have been much more conscious of inflation’s impact on their budgets. Sixty percent of consumers surveyed by NRF said they started holiday shopping before November in order to spread out their gift-shopping budgets. This year, 46 percent of consumers said they started their holiday shopping before November, down from 49 percent last year, but well above the 40 percent average since 2011.

“Retailers are responding to that demand, as we saw several major scheduled buying events in October,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said in the statement. “While this may result in some sales being pulled forward, we expect to see continued deals and promotions throughout the remaining months.”

What and Where

Diving into the details of NRF’s 2022 Winter Holidays report, the association shed some light on what items consumers have added to their wish lists and where they plan to do their shopping.

Over half of consumers (54 percent) said they prefer to receive gift cards in order to make their own purchases. But beyond that, 24 percent said they have electronics on their wish lists (down from 26 percent last year), 23 percent have home décor items in mind (flat compared to last year), and 17 percent would like home improvement items (up from 16 percent last year).

And as for where they plan to make their purchases, over half of consumers (56 percent) said they will do their shopping online — down slightly from last year (57 percent). And beyond the discount stores (48 percent) and department stores (47 percent), consumer also note that they plan to hit up local and small businesses (24 percent), electronics stores (20 percent) and other specialty stores (12 percent) this year.

 

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