The holiday shopping season has been off to a slower start this year, indicating that the economy is slowly returning to normalcy. The pandemic has had a significant impact on the timing of holiday shopping, as evidenced by U.S. retail sales falling for the first time since March. Unlike previous years, it seems that holiday shopping will not be starting as early as September this year. Senior Economist Robert Spendlove believes that 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 thrown into a lake, with the ripple effects of its impact still being felt even after months have passed. While we may be past the pandemic, we are still dealing with its aftermath. Overall, improvements are being observed in employment data, inflation, and retail spending, indicating that we are moving towards economic normalcy. However, achieving a true soft landing remains elusive at this time.
Despite months-early holiday shopping becoming more common during the height of the pandemic, when last-minute shopping and picking up gifts were not an option, Spending believes that returning to a more traditional timeline this year is a positive sign. With the economy cooling down and hopefully soon returning to normal, it is predicted that shopping will pick back up after Thanksgiving. As we move towards more normal holiday shopping trends, it seems like economic normalcy is on the horizon.