For many Americans, inflation could not be more pronounced at a worse time.
The consumer price index shows this holiday season prices are up more than 6% from a year ago, and they have risen an extra one percent over just the last month as people turn their attention to buying gifts.
According to the National Retail Federation, though, the increased prices are not deterring buying. The NRF estimates that there were 66 million people who tried to get a jump start on holiday shopping this Thanksgiving weekend, a considerable jump from 52.9 million last year, and the average consumer spent $364.
“The nostalgia factor is big for consumers. I think we all missed a sense of normalcy and some of that involves heading to stores, seeing the décor, and getting out and about with other people,” said Katherine Cullen, senior director for industry and consumer research at the National Retail Federation.
The NRF says holiday spending this year is projected to grow between 8.5% to 10% from 2020. A big portion of that is electronics, the fourth biggest spending category according to the federation that has been hit hard by supply chain issues.
Xboxes and PlayStations that debuted last holiday season are still in short supply. If you do not find a deal, a new one could cost you as much as double its original retail price of $550.
But dig a little deeper and you will find there are some good alternatives. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows smartphones, for instance, have fallen in price by 29% since the pandemic began.
“Look at a number of retailers to see what’s available and what discounts and prices are being offered,” said Cullen. “Many retailers are offering things like a gift card with the purchase.”
Another option to bypass issues is to shop locally. Some major retailers are experiencing delays in shipping for hard-to-find items so going out to a local store could mean you are getting your gift in stock and on time.
“There are added supply chain challenges, even with retailers taking a lot of proactive steps to bring inventory in earlier,” said Cullen. “Some categories, like electronics, have been impacted a little bit more due to supply chain issues than others.”