Last year, Lucila Gomez and her husband started their Thanksgiving shopping holiday and ended it a week before Christmas, spending $750 on tablets and clothes for their three children and loved ones.
This year? Gomez is waiting until she gets her annual bonus on Friday to get started — and she’s limiting her spending to $200, using only World Cup-themed jerseys for 10-year-old twins and a 6-year-old child.
“Last year, we were very confident. We were like, ‘Get them whatever they want,'” said Buckeye, an Arizona resident, 49, who works by the hour in the billing department of a medical company. “This year, we are waiting until we both get paid. We want to go into the new year without being in debt to anything.”
Last-minute holiday shoppers are in effect again – and inflation is partly to blame.
During the first two years of the pandemic, many people bought earlier in the season for fear of not getting what they wanted because of shortages or delayed deliveries. They also have more money to spend thanks to government stimulus checks and childcare credits.
But this year, Supply chain difficulties have eased and shoppers don’t worry about availability because they worry about higher prices on everything from rent to food, causing them to postpone purchases until the last minute.
For instance, Gomez says that although she and her husband, an electrician, each received a raise, that amount still wasn’t enough to cover their growing expenses. In fact, she said her family moved in with her parents after their monthly rent increased from $1,500 to $2,000 earlier this year. She was hoping to save up to buy a house, but mortgage rates kept going up.
Brian Field, global lead at Sensormatic Solutions, which tracks store traffic, said last-minute shopping is also being encouraged by an oddity in this year’s calendar. With Christmas falling on a Sunday, consumers have an entire week to shop.
Retailers are counting on last-minute spending frenzy to help hit weaker-than-expected post-November holiday sales targets.
Americans sharply cut retail spending last month as the shopping season kicked in with high prices and rising interest rates taking a toll on households, especially low-income families.
American spending has remained intact since inflation first spiked nearly 18 months ago, but the likelihood that shoppers will continue to spend during times of high inflation may be starting to ease. Inflation has receded from a four-decade high hit this summer but still high enough to dampen consumer spending.
However, holiday sales will generally be decent, although holiday sales growth is expected to slow significantly from a year ago.
The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, is expected to release actual results for the combined November and December periods next month. The group expects holiday sales growth to slow to between 6% and 8%, compared with a dizzying 13.5% growth a year ago.
The last period of the holiday season is very important.
On average, the 10 busiest shopping days in the US — Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Monday next week — account for about 40% of total holiday retail traffic, according to Sensormatic. However, retailers can expect even larger numbers this year as high gas prices force consumers to consolidate their shopping trips and everyone will converge over the next few days, Sensormatic said. know.
For those waiting for a bigger sale right before Christmas, they may be disappointed. Retailers in general have maintained the same discounts they have offered since Black Friday. However, there may be some deals in areas such as housing and furniture, according to DataWeave, which tracks the prices of hundreds of thousands of items across about three dozen retailers, including Walmart, Target and Amazon.
Recent DataWeave data shows that the average price of furniture was discounted by 23% in the second week of December, compared with 12.8% during the week of Black Friday. On home furnishings, the average discount was 17.2% compared to 11.2% during Black Friday.
Krish Thyagarajan, president and chief executive officer of DataWeave, believes that discounts on electronics are growing from Black Friday levels in the days leading up to Christmas, but discounts on clothing should stay slightly above 20% , more generous than last year’s average of 16% discount around this time.
Inflation or not, there will always be long-time procrastinators like Evelyn T. Peregrin, who last year used COVID-19 as an excuse to delay her holiday shopping because some loved ones had already passed away. She has the virus so she doesn’t have to buy or send gifts until after Christmas.
Now, around $700 in travel costs are eating into her budget. The 28-year-old moved to Puerto Rico from New Jersey with her husband earlier this year, forcing her to cut her vacation spending to about $150 from last year’s $250.
“I would probably order a few things online and then have to go to the store at the last minute,” she said.
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