Home Consumer debt It’s starting to look a lot like a post-COVID Christmas to retailers

It’s starting to look a lot like a post-COVID Christmas to retailers


In the second pandemic-era holiday season, goods may cost more, but Americans have more money to spend – and they seem eager to spend it.

That’s true in Arizona, where retailers say the holiday shopping season is already in full swing and residents are expected to spend between $ 590 and $ 1,558 on their purchases, according to a recent estimate.

And while Black Friday remains popular, experts say many shoppers started opening their wallets months ago. Katherine Cullen of the National Retail Federation said the Thanksgiving weekend rush is “not the start of the season it was.”

READ ALSO: How Arizona’s recovery from pandemic gained significant momentum

“We see this as more of a halfway point,” said Cullen, senior director of industry and consumer insight at NRF. “But it’s something that consumers really appreciate as part of their Thanksgiving tradition.”

Hitendra Chaturvedi said it was an acceleration of a trend seen during the previous holiday.

“That same trend that was happening even before COVID – where people go online and a lot more Black Friday is happening in September – has just picked up,” said Chaturvedi, professor of supply chain management. at Arizona State University’s WP Carey School of Business.

“Eighty-five percent of the American population would have done their holiday shopping by Cyber ​​Monday,” he said, something that “has never been done before.”

The annual NRF for November Vacation customer A survey found that more than 158 million people will shop on Thanksgiving weekend, 108 million on Black Friday alone. But he also said 61% of them “had already started holiday shopping,” slightly up from 59% last year, but 10 percentage points higher than in 2011.

This holiday season comes at a time when many Americans have more cash on hand, after a year in which the government handed out stimulus payments for a pandemic and the job market has steadily improved.

Chaturvedi also works as an analyst for WalletHub, a Washington, DC-based personal finance site, which released a report last week saying Arizonans could spend up to $ 1,558 per person on gifts this holiday season.

WalletHub list of 570 cities examines income, age, debt, spending, and savings to generate an estimate of vacation spending per person, by city. Of the 15 Arizona cities on the list, Gilbert led the way, with projected spending of $ 1,558 for the vacation. Residents of Tucson are expected to spend the least in the state, at around $ 590.

Gilbert was in 73rd place and Tucson in 532nd on WalletHub’s national list, where the median vacation budget for cities was $ 889.

A Gallup Report published this week came to roughly the same conclusion, predicting that Americans planned to spend an average of $ 886 on holiday gifts this year, up from $ 852 last year.

Despite fears that supply chain issues could disrupt holiday shopping, the interim president and CEO of the Tucson Chamber of Commerce said retailers appeared to be doing well so far.

Michael Guymon, CEO, said all of the supply chain issues Tucson faces have less to do with domestic consumers and more to do with larger-scale operations like “a construction company trying to build homes to meet market demands “.

“It’s not so much in the retail space that we see issues of ‘supply chain complications,’ he said, but added that the chamber has had to help retailers’ to figure out how to pivot to have a product online “during the holiday season.

“Online sales have increased over the past five years,” he said, but more so “in the final months of the pandemic.”

This was echoed in the Gallup Report, where Lydia Saad said that while some of the recent increase in e-commerce “might be a natural extension of the long-term increase in online shopping, it probably also reflects more of people adopting the practice during the pandemic. “

Online sales totaled $ 214 billion in the third quarter of 2021, or about 13% of total retail sales for the quarter, according to the Census Bureau.

Most of the online activity has gone to chain stores like Walmart, Target and Home Depot, Chaturvedi said. He said the effect of the pandemic on the economy “was independent of industry, but not of size.”

“Smaller companies were hit harder, while larger companies, initially when they were hit, found a way to mitigate the risk because they had deeper pockets,” he said. declared.

“The coronavirus, has turned into a nice little shield for the big companies in which they have killed their competitors,” he said.

Despite the increase in online sales, Cullen said there is still a place for traditional Black Friday shopping, both as a social event with family and friends and as a way to get those in-store deals that keep this always very popular event.

Chaturvedi’s “biggest draw” is that consumers are helping mitigate some of the impacts of the pandemic by buying less products for giveaways and spending more on local business experiences. He also said it would help control supply chain issues.

“We can promise ourselves this one, we’re not going to amass,” Chaturvedi said. “Because the moment you accumulate and think about yourself, the supply becomes more limited and the price goes up. This is a classic example of supply and demand.

Article by Simon Williams, Cronkite News

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