Families may not skimp on holiday gifts for their loved ones this year, but they’ll likely slim down their list of recipients, turn to credit cards and dip into savings to afford them, according to an industry forecast Thursday.
So who will be on the list? The kids, the grandparents, the babysitter. Maybe your favorite aunt or uncle. That’s about it.
Retail sales for the combined November-December shopping months will grow between 6% and 8% this year compared with the 2021 holiday season, to between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion, according to projections released Thursday from the National Retail Federation, the industry’s largest trade group.
Although consumers are feeling the pressure of inflation and higher prices, households in various income brackets are responding differently to how their budgets are impacted, NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement, but consumers overall still remain resilient and continue to spend.
“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,” Shay said, adding that this will most likely be the case with lower-income households.
Holiday online are forecast to increase between 10% and 12% to between $262.8 billion and $267.6 billion, up from $238.9 billion in 2021, the group said.
Shay added that retailers have done a good job kicking off the holiday season earlier than usual this year, in some cases rolling out some Black Friday-like promotions in early October. This has helped jump start holiday sales ahead of schedule and could support more sales increases in coming weeks..
But other forecasts for holiday sales suggest there may be a big pullback on gift shopping in the weeks ahead.
Consulting firm Deloitte expects retail sales in November, December and January – when Christmas gift cards are redeemed – to increase only 4% to 6%.
That compares unfavorably with last year’s robust 15.1% increase, but this year’s expected slower growth is in line with where holiday retail sales were trending pre-pandemic.
Although gifting will be important for families, many of them will be buying fewer gifts for fewer people this year as households grapple with persistent high inflation – consumer prices increased by 8.2% in September over last year. That reshaped how consumers are budgeting for everyday necessities and occasional indulgences.
Prices are up for everything from groceries to clothing, shoes, stationery items and more.