Inflation Scrooge Won't Humbug Holiday Shopping, Retail Group Forecasts

The National Retail Federation maintains a sunny outlook even as consumer confidence wanes amid the crush of inflation.

 grandmother and granddaughter shopping for Christmas gifts
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A retail trade group is sprinkling a little optimism on a holiday shopping season that sure could use it. The National Retail Federation, a trade association that represents, you guessed it, retailers, is forecasting sales this year to increase 6% to 8% over 2021 holiday sales, a healthy increase as shoppers worry about inflation.

“While consumers are feeling the pressure of inflation and higher prices, and while there is continued stratification with consumer spending and behavior among households at different income levels, consumers remain resilient and continue to engage in commerce,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a press release

That predicted increase in sales translates into a rise of $942.6 billion to $960.4 billion, the NRF forecasts. Online and other non-bricks-and-mortar sales will pop the most, rising 10% to $12% over 2021 sales, registering between $262.8 billion and $267.6 billion.

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That goes against the tone set by one of the biggest retailers, Amazon.com, with its forecast of slowing sales this holiday season. The NRF’s numbers also don’t reflect inflation itself. Kiplinger’s staff economist, David Payne, is forecasting a 7% nominal increase in holiday sales that works out to about a 1% gain when adjusted for inflation; see more about how this shakes out in Bargains for Shoppers as Retailers Shed Overstock.

Meanwhile, retailers are busy trying to capture a piece of that business early, and not wait until the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, Black Friday

And it was Amazon that lit that fire of early holiday shopping with its October event (or second Amazon Prime Day 2022), Early Access Sale. Other big retailers have followed, showcasing Black Friday deals available in store and online well before Black Friday. They include Walmart, Best Buy and Home Depot. Even Bank of America got in on the early holiday shopping race, sponsoring a one-day shopping event to reward shoppers for spending early.

How are shoppers pulling this off in light of racing inflation and low consumer confidence?

Says the NRF’s Shay, “In the face of these challenges, many households will supplement spending with savings and credit to provide a cushion and result in a positive holiday season.” 

Bob Niedt
Online Editor, Kiplinger.com

Bob is a Senior Online Editor at Kiplinger.com. He has more than 40 years of experience in online, print and visual journalism. Bob has worked as an award-winning writer and editor in the Washington, D.C., market as well as at news organizations in New York, Michigan and California. Bob joined Kiplinger in 2016, bringing a wealth of expertise covering retail, entertainment, and money-saving trends and topics. He was one of the first journalists at a daily news organization to aggressively cover retail as a specialty, and has been lauded in the retail industry for his expertise. Bob has also been an adjunct and associate professor of print, online and visual journalism at Syracuse University and Ithaca College. He has a master’s degree from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a bachelor’s degree in communications and theater from Hope College.