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2023 holiday sales to usher in 'new dynamics,' retail group says

The National Retail Federation said recent holiday shopping seasons have been filled with "peculiarities," and this season will have its own new set.
2023 holiday sales to usher in 'new dynamics,' retail group says
Posted at 6:27 PM, Nov 13, 2023

Recent holiday shopping seasons have been anything but ordinary and predictable, for the most part, but the National Retail Federation says they expect this next holiday shopping season to have an entirely new "set of dynamics."

The group said that even with economic uncertainty looming over the upcoming year, shoppers are expected to be out and online at historic levels, which just adds to the "peculiarities" that the NRF says have colored recent shopping seasons. 

Jack Kleinhenz is a chief economist with the group and said, "The average household remains on relatively solid financial footing despite pressures from still-high inflation, stringent credit conditions and elevated interest rates." 

Kleinhenz says government data shows that any pandemic savings that shoppers may be holding onto still appears to be "providing a buffer" to help them keep shopping. 

The NRF says it feels very optimistic about the success of the upcoming holiday shopping weeks. 

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While largely vague, economists have been sending out warnings that a recession is possible by next year. Recent reporting has kept the looming possibility of some sort of economic downturn in headlines. 

Costs for just about everything have gone up while salaries have lagged, which is yet another worry that has been top of mind for workers. Even factoring that in, the NRF says it expects the way shoppers behave to "defy recession predictions."

Kleinhenz said he expects "the recent rhythm of spending will continue into the holiday season and that consumers will continue to spend on a range of items and experiences but at a slower pace." 

He said households are managing to deal with the "constraints of their paychecks amid higher interest rates and higher monthly financial obligations as they seek to maintain their mode of living."

It's being called a surge in consumer spending that is fueling strong economic growth, and even Federal Reserve officials are surprised to see the new peculiarity. Consumer spending jumped up by 0.4% in September, even after it was adjusted for inflation, amid increasing borrowing costs. 

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