While concerns about inflation and supply chain issues have dominated the news, analysts are feeling optimistic about Black Friday sales.
Nearly two million more people than last year are expected to shop from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday this year, as consumers continue the trend of starting earlier in the year, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.
"Black Friday stopped being a one-day event years ago, and this year some consumers started shopping for Christmas as early as Halloween," NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.
Two-thirds of holiday shoppers surveyed in early November plan to shop Thanksgiving weekend this year, the federation said.
That's an estimated 30.6 million planing to shop either in-store or online on Thanksgiving Day, while 108 million plan to shop on Black Friday and 62.8 million on Cyber Monday.
October's retail numbers were encouraging, rising 1.7% from the previous month to a collective 638.2 billion, the Commerce Department said, ahead of the consensus forecast of a 1.2% gain, and 16.3% higher from the Covid-hit period in the fall of last year.
"As we enter the holiday shopping season, there is no denying that consumers will see increased prices," said Mike Loewengart managing director of investment strategy with E*Trade Financial.
"But it isn’t necessarily a sign that spending will be down. Strong October retail sales and solid third quarter-retail earnings signal that the rising prices haven’t stopped consumers from opening their wallets."
And another key driver could be fear of bare shelves, he said, "as supply chain disruptions have been pretty rampant across industries."
"This also could have accelerated holiday shopping so far this year," Loewengart said. "So increased demand combined with shipping delays may lead to headaches for both producers and consumers."
Louis Navellier, chief investment officer at Navellier & Associates, said that although consumer prices based on the CPI have risen 6.2% in the past year, "there is no doubt that consumer spending is robust, which bodes well for the holiday shopping season."
"Black Friday will provide a good preview of holiday sales," he said. "Already, I am getting 'Black Friday' special offers from Bose and other retailers, which is a good sign."
Navellier said the primary reason that he expects robust holiday sales, despite supply shortages, "is that personal income has risen impressively this year, with the exception of September when extended unemployment benefits expired."
"When you put money in consumers' pockets, they tend to spend it, as robust October retail sales demonstrated," he said.