The holiday shopping season is off to a slower start this year, indicating that the economy may be returning to normalcy. While the pandemic has had a significant impact on the timing of holiday shopping, with U.S. retail sales falling for the first time since March, it appears that the trend towards earlier shopping has shifted. According to Senior Economist Robert Spendlove, this change in timing reflects the ongoing effects of the pandemic on the economy.
Comparing the pandemic to a rock being thrown into a lake, Spendlove suggests that while we are no longer directly affected by its impact, we are still dealing with its aftermath. Despite months-early holiday shopping becoming more common during the height of the pandemic, when last-minute shopping and gift picking up were not an option, Spendlove believes that this year’s return to a more traditional timeline is a positive sign.
As we approach Thanksgiving and beyond, it is predicted that retail spending will pick back up as more people feel comfortable spending money again. This shift in consumer behavior could signal a true sense of economic normalcy on the horizon as employment data shows improvements and inflation rates stabilize. However, achieving a soft landing remains elusive and uncertain.
Overall, while there have been noticeable improvements in certain areas of the economy, it seems like we are not yet out of woods yet. Nonetheless, with continued efforts from policymakers and businesses alike towards recovery and sustainability, hope remains for achieving economic stability in 2022.