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Inflation may play the grinch this holiday shopping season

Negotiating with Santa
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Negotiating with Santa

Inflation is looming over holiday shopping this year as Michigan shoppers hit the stores and online looking for bargains this weekend.

The National Retail Federation is predicting a 6% to 8% increase in holiday sales this year. Strong online holiday sales since the end of October seem to support that prediction.

But Michigan State University marketing professor Forrest Morgeson says his recent survey of consumers suggests they plan to spend less this year, perhaps around $700.

“That’s...a good bit off the $880 or so that people have spent on average over the last three years,” said Morgeson.

Though inflation may actually be driving sales.

Andrea Bitely is the spokeswoman for the Michigan Retailers Association. She says many consumers are concerned about inflation jacking up prices from week to week. Bitely says there’s also concern desired presents won’t be on store shelves.

“Now more than ever, Americans, and those of us here in Michigan, have been pretty aware of shortages and just not being able to get things that we want,” said Bitely.

University of Michigan-Flint economist Christopher Douglas says it’s too early to predict how holiday sales will go this year.

“Maybe in a week or two we can look at what happened with Black Friday and Cyber Monday...and compare that to last year to see how it’s looking to see if it’s up versus if it’s down,” said Douglas.

There is also another factor that could impact the holiday shopping season.

A possible rail strike next month could disrupt the nation’s supply chain.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.