The holiday shopping season is off to a slower start this year, indicating that the economy is slowly returning to normalcy after being affected by the pandemic. U.S. retail sales have fallen for the first time since March, which suggests that the timing of holiday shopping has been impacted by the pandemic. In previous years, holiday shopping would have started as early as September, but this year it seems that consumers are taking a more traditional approach to their holiday shopping.
According to Senior Economist Robert Spendlove, this shift in the timing of holiday shopping is reflective of the economy still being affected by the pandemic. Spendlove compares the pandemic to a rock being thrown into a lake, with the ripple effects of its impact still being felt even though it may be over. While improvements have been observed in employment data, inflation, and retail spending, the elusive soft landing that everyone hopes for has yet to be achieved.
Despite months-early holiday shopping being more common during the height of the pandemic when last-minute shopping and picking up of gifts were not an option, Spending believes that returning to a more traditional timeline this year is a good sign. With the economy cooling down and hopefully soon returning to normal, it is predicted that shopping will pick back up after Thanksgiving. A return to more normal holiday shopping trends seems to indicate that a true sense of economic normalcy is on the horizon.