The National Retail Federation is forecasting that holiday spending will be healthy this year despite inflationary challenges and consumers shifting back to services from goods.
The NRF estimates that holiday retail sales are actually expected to grow in November and December at between 6% and 8% over 2021, to reach between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion. Last year’s holiday sales were up 13.5% over 2020 and totaled $889.3 billion, shattering previous records.
Holiday retail sales have averaged an increase of 4.9% over the past 10 years, with pandemic spending in recent years accounting for considerable gains that have contributed to record U.S. imports that have clogged ports and inland supply networks.
The NRF’s forecast comes as U.S. imports growth has “run out of steam”, with the number of containers moving through U.S. ports now falling below last year’s record levels as retailers brought in cargo early to avoid peak shipping season congestion. The NRF’s latest forecast for retail imports showed October volumes at 2 million TEU, down 9.4% year over year; November at 2.01 million TEU, down 4.9%, and December at 1.96 million TEU, down 6.1%.
Still, 2022 is expected to total 26 million TEUs, which would be up 0.7% from last year’s annual record of 25.8 million TEUs.
“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,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “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.
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