Christmas shoppers came out in droves last weekend to find holiday gifts and stocking stuffers. According to the National Retail Federation, over 196 million shoppers sought out deals from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday last weekend. They also anticipate that retail sales will rise by 6 to 8% percent in 2022, with most of that coming from high inflation that is impacting all consumers in the U.S.
In person shopping was also up 17% from 2021 with over 122 million folks visiting brick-and-mortar stores. Those shoppers also spent an average of $325, significantly higher than last year’s number of $301. This could be a good sign for the economy, but there are some signs that can be misleading. Although shopping numbers are up, people are also hungry for big-bargains and deeply discounted items that you find during the Black Friday shopping period. Consumers are also racking up massive credit card debt during 2022, with balances hitting over $900 billion in November, the highest ever. Those large balances along with much higher interest rates create potential pain for consumers after the holiday season.
Whether your braved the early morning crowds or clicked the Amazon link from the comfort of your couch, more people spent money on their Christmas gifts than ever before. It also cost more than ever before. The Federal Reserve can significantly influence what happens to the economy in 2023. Here’s to hoping that they bring tidings of great joy and not coal in our stockings this year.