Imports of goods may have peaked for the year, but U.S. consumers are already shopping for the holidays and households are expected to spend more on average than they did last year, National Retail Federation CEO Matt Shay said Monday.
After spiking inflation caused people to change their spending patterns, consumer demand is starting to bounce back, Shay told Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka during an online media briefing.
A post-pandemic shift saw more spending on restaurants, travel and other services. While Shay says people are still spending on goods, there has been some moderation there.
“Consumers aren’t spending as much and they’re not spending it in the same ways,” he said.
The trade group is forecasting that families will spend an average of $875 on gifts, food, decorations and other holiday items, which is $42 more than planned holiday spending in 2022 and slightly higher than the five-year average, according to the National Retail Federation’s website.
People are starting holiday shopping earlier than ever, and retailers have responded to that by bringing cargo in earlier, Shay said, so imports are expected to slow as the end of the year approaches.
“It’s our sense that most of the inventory necessary for the holiday season is already here in the U.S., in domestic markets and warehouses and other points of distribution,” he said.
Meanwhile, one of biggest concerns for the shopping sector continues to be organized retail crime and the impact of theft and inventory shrinkage on businesses, Shay said. According to a study his group recently released, organized retail crime losses in 2022 totaled $112 billion, up from about $90 billion in 2021.
Those are huge numbers, but people are starting to better understand how it hurts not just businesses and their workers, but also customers and communities, Shay said.
“There’s some regions and cities hit harder than others, but finding a solution to these challenges is really very high on our agenda,” he said.