NEW YORK: After nearly two years of pandemic gloom, American consumers appear primed to spend generously for the holidays in spite of worries over inflation and item availability.
Retailers have seen strong buying interest this fall, with robust “back to school” and Halloween sales fueling optimism about the holiday season, which kicks off this week with “Black Friday.”
But petrol prices are up more than 60 per cent from a year ago, while this year’s Thanksgiving feast will cost an estimated 14 per cent more, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation, an agricultural lobbying group, report agencies.
Shortages are another worry.
In earnings conference call over the last week, Target, Walmart and other big-box retailers offered reassurances that they’d have sufficient inventories after recent concerns that supply chain snafus would leave Christmas stockings empty.
But there will certainly be gaps, with popular game consoles and some high-demand electronics products from Apple and other companies seen as especially hard to find.
Customers “may not be finding their first choice,” said Foot Locker chief executive Richard Johnson.
Worries about shortages began building significantly in October, when the White House announced an initiative to shift key supply chain infrastructure to 24-hour service following delays at West Coast ports.
Since that time, there have been some signs of progress. The Port of Los Angeles last week reported a 35 per cent drop in the number of containers that have dwelled there for nine or more days.