Retailers Predict Healthy Holiday Sales Despite Inflation
WASHINGTON — Holiday retail sales during November and December will grow between 6% and 8% compared to last year, and come in somewhere in excess of $942.6 billion despite stubbornly persistent inflation woes, the National Retail Federation said on Thursday.
Last year’s holiday sales grew 13.5% over 2020 and totaled $889.3 billion, shattering previous records.
On average, holiday retail sales have increased 4.9% over the past 10 years, with pandemic spending in recent years accounting for considerable gains.
“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,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay during a conference call with reporters.
“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,” he said.
The National Retail Federation expects online and other non-store sales, which are included in the total, to increase between 10% and 12% to between $262.8 billion and $267.6 billion.
This figure is up from $238.9 billion last year, which saw extraordinary growth in digital channels as consumers turned to online shopping to meet their holiday needs during the pandemic.
While e-commerce will remain important, households are also expected to shift back to in-store shopping and a more traditional holiday shopping experience.
“This holiday season cycle is anything but typical,” said the federation’s chief economist, Jack Kleinhenz.
“NRF’s holiday forecast takes a number of factors into consideration, but the overall outlook is generally positive as consumer fundamentals continue to support economic activity,” he said. “Despite record levels of inflation, rising interest rates and low levels of confidence, consumers have been steadfast in their spending and remain in the driver’s seat.”
Kleinhenz also noted what anyone who has been in a retail store lately has witnessed for themselves — that this year’s holiday shopping season started earlier this year, and that retailers responded to that demand by scheduling their first holiday sales not long after their back-to-school sales had ended.
“While this may result in some sales being pulled forward, we expect to see continued deals and promotions throughout the remaining months,” Kleinhenz said.
This year, given concerns around inflation, 46% of holiday shoppers said they planned to browse or buy before November, according to NRF’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics.
Still, consumers plan to spend $832.84 on average on gifts and holiday items such as decorations and food, in line with the average for the last 10 years.
NRF expects retailers will hire between 450,000 and 600,000 seasonal workers. That compares with roughly 669,800 seasonal hires in 2021.