Our Chicago: Holiday shopping outlook

ByKay Cesinger WLS logo
Sunday, November 19, 2023
Our Chicago

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Americans have a busy week ahead. Millions will be traveling for the holiday and after Thanksgiving comes Black Friday.

But just days before the unofficial kickoff to the holiday shopping season, the U. S. Commerce Department reported that Americans cut back on retail spending in October, after six straight months of gains.

Matt Adams is a principal with Deloitte Consulting in retail strategy. They recently published their annual holiday shopping outlook which surveyed shoppers across the country and here in the Chicago area,

Matt Adams with Deloitte shares their annual shopping outlook.

It was a little surprising because when Deloitte released its "back to school" shopping survey in the summer, that data showed consumers were cautious about the economy, inflation and spending less. Those factors still exist, so what's expected for the holiday shopping season, "Nationally consumer spending is expected to be up for the holiday season, about 14%," said Adams, "In Chicago, we're a little bit more reserved. So you are seeing some of those factors that you just articulated play out. But what we're really seeing is more of a reflection of the last three years. And if you look at 2020 spending was, not surprisingly, down significantly. But in Chicago, in particular, we rebounded particularly well in the last couple of years. And so, Chicago has just been a little bit ahead of the rest of the country in terms of return to normal spending amounts. And relative to pre-Covid levels we're actually flat in terms of consumer spending and what they're expecting for their holiday season."

The survey also found that two-thirds of people plan to shop during Thanksgiving week, an increase from last year. Adams said people are looking for deals. "81 percent of consumers in the Chicago area have said they're going to shop those deal days as opposed to 52 percent last year. So, it's a big jump and really consumers are just looking to make their dollars go further and make sure that they can keep the holidays as festive as possible."

Chauncey Rice with the Illinois Retail Merchants Association talks about the impact in Illinois.

The National Retail Federation is projecting that holiday spending will reach record levels in November and December. So what about here in Illinois? Chauncey Rice is the associate vice president of government relations with the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, "Contrary to the constant talk of a looming recession and despite relatively high inflation, high interest rates and the restart of student loan payments, which I know a lot of folks are dreading right now, household finances stubbornly remain in fairly decent shape which allows consumers to spend a little bit more this holiday season on items for friends and family. So as consumer confidence remains high retailers here in Illinois remain optimistic and expect strong sales this holiday season mirroring the National Retail Federation's estimates of around 3-to-4 percent. While 3% is a lot less than we were seeing at the height of the pandemic, the number is on par with what we've seen from 2010 to 2019."

After Black Friday, comes Small Business Saturday, which began in 2010. "It's no secret that like many other states, and I say, like the entire country, that small businesses are the backbone of Illinois' economy," said Rice, "So it's imperative that we continue to support the Mom and Pops as their successes truly are vital to the state's economy so Small Business Saturday is extremely important for Illinois' local businesses."