Despite economic pressures, Illinois business group is optimistic about holiday sales


By KEVIN BESSLER

The Center Square

SPRINGFIELD – As the economy teeters on the edge of a possible recession, there is optimism about the upcoming holiday spending season.

The National Retail Federation forecast calls for holiday retail sales during November and December to grow between 6% and 8% over last year to between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion. Last year’s holiday sales grew more than 13% over 2020, shattering previous records.

The NRF reports holiday retail sales have averaged an increase of 4.9% over the past 10 years, with pandemic spending in recent years accounting for considerable gains.

Chris Davis, the Illinois State director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said the current state of the economy is in the back of everyone’s minds.

“There are concerns that consumers will restrict spending a little bit as they tighten their belts and make tough decisions as gasoline and energy costs continue to rise,” Davis said.

Despite the economic pressures, Davis said they remain optimistic about the upcoming holiday shopping season and encourages Illinoisans to shop local.

U.S. inflation eased slightly last month as the Federal Reserve raised interest rates to get a handle on prices that have surged at a historic pace. The Consumer Price Index in October reflected a 7.7% increase over last year and a 0.4% increase over the prior month. Economists, in general, were predicting a higher increase.

Despite the better-than-expected news, the Federal Reserve will most likely raise interest rates again in December.

NRF president and CEO Mathew Shay said the expanded shopping season is a boon for businesses.

“Consistently over the last decade, we know that consumers are out in the market earlier than ever and the holiday season is getting extended into the fall,” Shay said.

NRF expects that online and other non-store sales, which are included in the total, to increase between 10% and 12% to about $265 billion. That figure is up from $238.9 billion last year, which saw incredible growth in digital channels as consumers turned to online shopping to meet their holiday needs during the pandemic.

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