National Retail Federation predicts healthy holiday spending

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FILE – In this Nov. 25, 2011 file photo, shoppers grab televisions at a store in Knoxville, Tenn., minutes after it opened. (AP Photo/The News Sentinel, Wade Payne)

(NewsNation) — A record 166.3 million people are expected to shop this Thanksgiving weekend through Cyber Monday, despite inflation, according to the National Retail Federation.

This year marks the highest estimate of projected shoppers since the federation began tracking the data in 2017. Stores nationwide could see a total of 8 million more shoppers than last year, according to a recent NRF survey.

“We are optimistic that retail sales will remain strong in the weeks ahead, and retailers are ready to meet consumers however they want to shop with great products at prices they want to pay,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a news release.

The NRF predicts that holiday retail sales during November and December will grow between 6% and 8% over 2021, coming out to more than $942.6 billion.

Black Friday is expected to see the most traffic with a projected 114.9 million shoppers, the survey found.

Some, however, are skeptical that inflation won’t have more of an impact on consumer spending.

This year’s NRF’s predictions are still “a far cry from the 15 percent increase from last year,” The Hill opinion contributor Gene Marks wrote.

“Unfortunately the expected per-capita consumer expenditure of $833 during the holidays is projected to be significantly down from $879 last year,” Marks wrote in a Monday column.

As in previous years, about 60% of consumers started their holiday shopping in November.

Some of that early spending, however, now happens in October. It’s a budding trend that was accelerated by the pandemic, according to Phil Rist, executive vice president of strategy at Prosper Insights and Analytics, which conducted the NRF’s survey.

“This year, 18% of holiday shoppers have completed at least half of their holiday shopping. While this is on par with last year, it is up from only 11% a decade ago,” Rist said.

Gift cards remain a favorite item, with total spending expected to reach $28.6 billion, according to the NRF.

Legos, Hot Wheels, and cars and trucks top the wish list for boys, while girls hope to receive Barbies, dolls in general and L.O.L. Dolls more specifically, according to the NRF.

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