The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicted Thursday that noninflation-adjusted holiday retail sales will rise 6% to 8% to up to $960.4 billion. That’s a 40% to 50% drop from 2021’s record levels but still what the trade group called a healthy increase in light of high inflation and economic downturn concerns.
Online and other nonstore sales will range between $262.8 billion and $267.6 billion, which would be up 10% to 12% from the past holiday season when more people shopped online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NRF. The U.S. retail industry’s leading trade group said it expected consumers to do more in-store holiday shopping than they did last year.
NRF, which defines the holiday season as Nov. 1 to Dec. 31, said that 46% of consumers planned to browse or buy before Nov. 1 to avoid the stress of holiday shopping and to spread out their budgets over a longer time period.
“Consumers are out earlier than ever,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay told reporters after the forecast was published.
Shay added that consumers are behaving more “thoughtfully and cautiously” in response to the macro headwinds.
Shay’s comments run counter to those made by Carol Tomè, CEO of UPS Inc., (NYSE: UPS) who said on the company’s quarterly analyst call last week that it expects a later peak delivery cycle as consumers revert to pre-pandemic behavior and supply chain disruptions fade.