As Christmas Nears, Holiday Shopping Is Set Break Records, Despite Supply Chain Worries

While Thanksgiving and Black Friday 2021 are now in the past, the shopping season has yet to conclude.

Online sales on Thanksgiving were essentially flat from 2020 at $5.1 billion, according to Adobe data. However, experts are still forecasting a record breaking shopping season this year, despite supply chain slowdowns and record high inflation.

The National Retail Federation’s (NRF) expects sales in November and December to grow as much as 11.5% year over year. This number is higher than NRF’s initial forecast of between 8.5% and 10.5% growth.

“Now that we’re in December, the holiday shopping season is nearing the finish line,” NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said in a release. “The question is how have factors ranging from economic indicators to the twists of the COVID-19 pandemic affected the season so far, and what role will they play in the weeks that remain?”

The positive forecasts come as consumer spending increases overall. Personal household spending rose 1.3% in October compared to September, according to data from the Commerce Department. Personal income increased 0.5%, as employers increase wages across industries to fill roles in a competitive labor market.

While Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday are done, Super Saturday, the last Saturday before Christmas and often considered the second-busiest shopping day of the year, is right around the corner. For this reason, December is often considered a crucial time for retailers to meet sales targets for the year.

According to forecasts from the retail solutions portfolio of Johnson Control’s Sensormatic Solutions, many shoppers will head to physical stores on Super Saturday because of shipping delays and cutoffs as well as a desire to shop in person.

“Widely noted supply chain issues will likely contribute to even more shoppers heading into stores than anticipated on Super Saturday as they realize they need more gifts for loved ones,” read a blog post from Sensormatic, which also said that many shoppers will head into stores to utilize Buy Online, Pick Up in Store (BOPIS) options.

However, while the last few weeks of the holiday shopping season are projected to be strong, data has suggested that many consumers already got an earlier start to their shopping this season, which has removed some of the emphasis on typically crucial shopping days throughout the season.

From Nov. 1 to Nov. 28, shoppers spent $99.1 billion online, marking a 13.6% growth from 2020, Adobe data showed. The growth was spurred in part by supply chain concerns as well as early deals that rolled out through October and November.

“Consumers have been shopping strategically this season: Buying early and taking advantage of deals retailers have been promoting since late October,” Taylor Schreiner, director of Adobe Digital Insight. “As a result, we’ve seen a record 18 days with sales over $3 billion in November. Black Friday still remains a major online shopping day, but the surge in online shopping is coming from the less marketed days of the season.”

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