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It’s black friday.  Yes, we buy more than ever: NPR

A sign promotes sales in a clothing store in a Colorado mall.

David Zalubowski / AP

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David Zalubowski / AP

It’s black friday.  Yes, we buy more than ever: NPR

A sign promotes sales in a clothing store in a Colorado mall.

David Zalubowski / AP

By all predictions and measurements possible, this holiday shopping season is set to break records. In fact, the shopping spree this whole year sets records even the Grinch couldn’t stop.

How big is a record, exactly?

U.S. shoppers are expected to spend up to $ 859 billion between this month and next, according to the National Retail Federation. This could be up to 10.5% more than what was spent during last year’s record-breaking holiday shopping season.

Plus, the NRF expects a whopping $ 4.4 trillion – yes, trillion with a t – to spend in 2021 in total. In 2020, our purchases peaked at just $ 4 trillion.

One reason is that this year’s holiday gift shopping started earlier than ever, increasing retail spending every month since August. Still, more people have told NRF that they plan to shop this key holiday weekend than last year, and Black Friday remains the day that attracts the most shoppers.

According to market research firm NPD Group, people should spend an average of $ 785 on holiday gifts.

What is the quality of the offers?

Store discounts are unlikely to be as big as they once were. This has been a lucrative year, but also expensive for retailers, making them less willing and less able to offer booming sales.

The big resignation of retail workers during the pandemic has prompted stores to raise wages faster than they have in years. Amazon, for example, revealed that higher wages and other expenses driven by a shortage of workers cost the company $ 2 billion in the last quarter.

Factory closures and shipping bottlenecks also cost stores. Gap says it expects to spend $ 450 million to send supplies by air instead of through surging ports. It predicts up to $ 650 million in lost sales due to supply chain disruptions.

What about inflation and higher prices?

We are seeing the biggest increase in inflation since 1990, according to data from the Ministry of Labor for October. And in polls, people say it really worries them: Consumer confidence is at its lowest in 10 years. But then they keep shopping and pay those higher prices.

It’s really unusual; consumer sentiment normally evolves in line with spending. But at least for now, inflation worries haven’t deterred vacation buyers.

“I think people are worried, but it’s kind of forward-looking fear,” says Akshat Goel, economist at data and analytics firm IHS Markit. Goel also points out that some of the biggest price increases so far have been in food and gasoline, and these usually don’t make anyone’s gift list.

Also, he adds, this holiday season would set a spending record even after adjusting for inflation. In fact, the surge in spending throughout 2021 was one of the main reasons for blockages at ports and other sea bottlenecks.

After 2020, a year of canceled trips, postponed weddings and ignored summer camps, many people have entered 2021 willing to spend. Federal pandemic aid gave bank accounts a huge boost, encouraging holiday spending levels at the start of the year.

As Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for the NRF, said, “Consumers spend because they can.”

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