Why are shopping records being broken with a looming recession?

ByPamela Parker
Saturday, December 3, 2022
Shopping records smashed amid looming recession? Expert explains
Why are holiday shopping records being broken with more spending in retail online and in store with a looming recession? We spoke with an expert.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Despite high inflation, mass tech layoffs, and a weak economic outlook, more Americans have opened their wallets and shopped this year than in previous years.

A record 196.7 million Americans shopped in stores and online during the five-day holiday shopping period from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, according to the annual survey released Friday by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

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The total number of shoppers grew by nearly 17 million from 2021 and is the highest figure since NRF first started tracking this data in 2017.

"It's been a rough couple of years," ," said Charles Lindsey, Associate Professor of Marketing, University at Buffalo School of Management. "People this year really want to celebrate, they want to indulge a little bit and there's a lot of what economists call pent up demand and that is really being reflected."

He attributes the uptick to several factors - fears that inflation will push prices further later as well as a longer holiday shopping season that has retailers extending deep discounts have seen more people stock up.

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About 10 year ago, 10% of individuals indicated that they completed their holiday shopping by the beginning of November now it's about double, almost 20%, one in five," Lindsey said.

Retailers are doing a lot of discounting relative to last year and the year before. Several giant retailers such as Amazon, Walmart and Target offered early deals starting in October.

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Even if household budgets have been impacted by high inflation and the poor economy, many are not letting that stop them.

"We're seeing a lot of reliance on debt on credit card debt we're seeing a lot of reliance this year relative to last year on "Buy now pay later" programs as well," Lindsey said.