Shop, Drop, and Roll
BY BILL RUBIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Before the wishbone from the Thanksgiving Bird was pulled in two, the National Retail Federation (NRF) released its forecast of record breaking holiday spending in America this season, to the tune of $942.6 – $960.4 billion. NRF said this year’s sales increase could be between six and eight percent over 2021’s $889.3 billion, soon to be just another record breaking number. What’s a couple of percentage points between hardy shoppers when billions are at stake? For starters, billions are at stake, and sometimes the thin margin is the subtle difference between retailers realizing a good year or great one.
NRF noted consumers (“us”) were feeling the pressure of inflation and higher prices in this shopping season. Alas, the NRF concluded consumers (“us”) remained resilient and continued to engage in commerce (“spending”). Thanks for the pep talk, NRF.
Crowded main streets, bistros, and stores? Slow broadband service? You-we-us (“consumers”) were likely shopping after Thanksgiving, mano-a-mano style. NRF predicted as many as 180 million Americans shopped during a five-day span between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. Keep in mind the U.S. population is around 332 million.
If post-Thanksgiving shopping days were reindeers, the Jolly Old Man would shout out, “On Blackie (Black Friday), now Tiny (Small Business Saturday), and onward Cybie (Cyber Monday)!” Those three reindeers are like the center and two guards of an offensive line in football. They pave the way for consumers and shoppers (“us”) to make big plays in electronics, sporting goods, or toy aisles. News outlets reported a record $9.12 billion was spent online during Black Friday (online!). Foot traffic at brick and mortar Big Box stores was reportedly down, leading one 70-something male shopper to proclaim, “If the product ain’t online, I ain’t buying it.” Analytics from Small Business Saturday in the U.S. estimated local spending at $17.9 billion. Cyber Monday racked up a reported $11.3 billion in sales. The beat, with a “b” for billions, goes on.
Intelligence from the NRF says shoppers (“us”) plan to spend around $833 on gifts and holiday items, which is in line with the average over the last ten years. A competing forecast from PricewaterhouseCoopers put the average spending at $1,430 for gifts, travel, and entertainment. PwC’s estimate is up 20 percent from the dark days of 2020 and more than 10 percent over 2019 spending.
Cash, credit, debit, or ‘other’? In 2015, PwC first inquired about consumer payment methods. Surprise! Cash was the most popular method, and 80 percent of polled consumers ranked it among their top three choices. So-called contactless payment options are the most popular in today’s shopping circles. The top three preferred methods are debit cards at 60 percent, credit cards at 53 percent, and cash, holding its own, also at 53 percent. The 70-something hipster may be on the leading edge of other methods, including Apple Pay/Android Pay at 19 percent, other mobile payments at 16 percent, and “buy now, pay later platforms” (hint: the old hipster says pay later platforms are options using downloaded app’s).
Enjoy the hectic days ahead. Whether it’s a new hoodie, a coffee card, holiday travel, jewelry, or electronics, here’s to a memory-filled holiday season in Wisconsin’s St. Croix Valley. We’ll do it again in 11 months.