TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The holiday shopping season is hitting its most intense week so far and billions of dollars are on the line for America’s recovering economy. Compared to pre-pandemic spending, a study by the National Retail Foundation said Americans will be spending a little less than they used to.
Before COVID-19, the average American adult spent about $1,050 on gifts, holiday décor, celebrations and food. Now, the NRF reports almost two full years into the pandemic, Americans are planning to spend less, about $997 instead.
“Overall plans for holiday spending remain slightly below the pre-pandemic high of $1,047.83 in 2019, as fewer consumers plan to spend on non-gift purchases for themselves and their families,” NRF said.
Spending on non-gift items decreasing means families are buying less food and less decoration for Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or New Year’s celebrations. Food costs have been higher than normal due to ongoing inflation, caused by shipping delays, shortages, higher fuel and energy costs and a decline in the active workforce during the pandemic.
Inflation is higher this year than any time since 1990, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The price increases are even hitting families in the holiday tradition department, making the cost of baking cookies this season more expensive than previous years.
Still, the NRF survey said that holiday sales between November and December should still be growing and are still higher than 2020.
The “NRF forecast last month that holiday sales during November and December will grow between 8.5 percent and 10.5 percent over 2020 to between $843.4 billion and $859 billion – setting records for both the growth rate and total amount spent,” according to the trade organization. That’s set to be the highest holiday retail sales record in history.
“There is considerable momentum heading into the holiday shopping season,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Consumers are in a very favorable position going into the last few months of the year as income is rising and household balance sheets have never been stronger. Retailers are making significant investments in their supply chains and spending heavily to ensure they have products on their shelves to meet this time of exceptional consumer demand.”