Despite high prices, inflation and safety concerns, many Christmas shoppers are browsing online but buying in store.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) reported this year that an estimated 166.3 million people visited stores from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, 8 million more than last year and the highest level since NRF began tracking this data in -2017.
The good news extends to online marketing.
E-commerce revenue this year is expected to grow to $554 billion compared to $360 billion in 2019, before the pandemic.
Black Friday continues to be the most popular day at the store with 114.9 million purchases followed by 63.9 million on Cyber Monday. Of those customers, 67% said they expect to visit stores, up from 64% in 2021, the NFR study said.
The Seattle Times reported that one big thing is the decrease in consumer fears about Covid-19.
Zachary Warring, an equity analyst at CFRA Research who focuses on consumer discretionary sales, added: “I think people will come back (to butcher shops) because people generally enjoy … the atmosphere of brick-and-mortar shopping. Probably for fun.”
Bloomberg reported that an important reason for the increase in sales is that retailers are offering promotions earlier than usual to reduce excess inventory.
Business owners are scrambling to avoid supply chain shortages. However, fully stocked shelves and warehouses come with high costs. The inflation rate is 7.75%, which means that an item that cost $1 a year ago is now $1.10.
That sales prospect was shared by the Washington Retail Association.
Renée Sunde, WRA president, expects spending across our states to increase by about 8% this holiday season. His hope is disturbed by the increase in crime and theft.
Sunde told the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce: “Communities across the county are facing a dramatic increase in theft and crime and growing security concerns at a time when the retail industry continues to recover from the effects of this pandemic, the highest inflation in 40 years. age, labor shortages, and supply chain challenges.”
Sunde noted that 25% of small businesses have had to increase prices due to theft from their stores, and in some cases, due to organized theft causing product shortages.
“Personal safety risks also affect the mental well-being of many workers. They feel threatened. This leads to employees being afraid to come to work.”
Bloomberg’s Olivia Rockeman noted that “early shoppers helped companies like Macy’s avoid a worst-case scenario in the third quarter, loading up on credit cards to cover higher prices on food and household goods while taking advantage of deep discounts on TVs and overstocked furniture.”
We will likely see more holiday hiring but due to issues with transportation companies hiring during normal business hours, it will be interesting to see how many employees these companies will be able to hire, Andrew Challenger, vice president of Challenger, Gray. & Christmas, he told RetailDive.com.
“The end of extended unemployment benefits may encourage other workers to take these positions. However, many other issues can prevent them from fulfilling these roles, such as concerns about Covid, vaccination status, childcare issues and burnout,” Challenger said.
Bloomberg reported that more than three-quarters of consumers expect to buy as much or more than that in 2021. However, some consumers are relying more on credit and buy now, later payment options than last year. That causes the saving rate to drop.
As we face uncertain economic times, that trend could become a major problem in 2023.
Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, author, and columnist. He retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest business organization, and now lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at theBrunells@msn.com.