The National Retail Federation has raised its estimate for holiday sales to gain as much as 11.5% from its October estimate of 8.5% to 10.5%. That's happening despite sales being slightly lower across the Black Friday shopping weekend which includes Cyber Monday.
Apparently Americans are happy to follow the old “shop ‘til you drop” adage, despite supply chain disruption, rising prices on many items, fewer sales, and challenges such as the omicron Covid variant.
“Now that we’re in December, the holiday shopping season is nearing the finish line,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “The question is how have factors ranging from economic indicators to the twists of the COVID-19 pandemic affected the season so far, and what role will they play in the weeks that remain?"
It's a New Retail Sales Pattern
The pandemic has changed how Americans shop but the holiday season had been creeping into a longer period before anyone had ever heard of COVID-19. That has been accelerated by the ever-present virus which has made some people less willing to shop in crowded stores. Exactly what the rest of the year looks like is not easy to predict because there are wildcards including COVID variants.
“There’s no crystal ball to provide a definitive answer, but the latest data is encouraging and provides useful insights. In fact, the season could turn out even better than we expected," Kleinhenz said.“Consumers and retailers have both revised their playbooks and broken with previous traditions.”
Online sales, curbside pickup, and other no-touch sales options have grown since the Covid pandemic broke out in March 2020. And with widespread vaccinations making many consumers comfortable about returning to stores in recent months, brick-and-mortar sales are thriving too.
“The holiday season clearly looks to be off to a good start,” Kleinhenz said. “Consumers remain in solid financial shape and do not appear to be stretched.”
With shopping starting earlier, the Thanksgiving weekend “now helps to mark off the holiday season rather than serving as the kickoff it once was,” he said.
The government is due to report November sales data Dec. 15. Retail sales jumped 1.7% in October.