USA: Retailers Optimistic, Year-End Shopping Gets Ahead – 11/26/2021 at 7:11 PM

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Macy’s department store in New York for Black Friday, November 26, 2021 (AFP / Yuki IWAMURA)

Americans didn’t wait until Black Friday, which traditionally kicks off the year-end shopping season, to shop, making retailers optimistic despite inflation, shortages and now a new variant. .

The anguish of empty toy shelves indeed seems to have pushed many parents and grandparents to do it in advance, to avoid the drama of the long-awaited gift but absent at the foot of the tree, because of the global difficulties of supply.

In the United States the holiday season begins at the end of November, with the Thanksgiving family dinner, which took place on Thursday.

U.S. consumers have already spent $ 76 billion at online retailers since the start of November, more than 20% more than around the same time last year, according to data released Friday by computer company Adobe. .

Unsurprisingly, toys were particularly popular with “anxious parents, increasingly aware of the difficulties in the supply chain”. Sales jumped 261% compared to November 2019, before the crisis.

In total, Americans could spend, during this holiday season, 10.5% more than last year, both in stores and on the internet, according to the American Federation of Retailers (National Retail Federation), which tables out of a total of $ 859 billion.

The finances of American households are supported in particular by government aid, with tax credits for families.

– Extraordinary measures –

“Consumers looking to shop earlier, (…) shortages could develop in the last weeks of the holiday shopping” season, warned Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist of the NRF .

He nevertheless expects “an excellent season” if the store shelves remain well stocked.

news"> Morning queue for Black Friday in front of a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas on November 26, 2021 (AFP / PAUL RATJE)

Morning queue for Black Friday in front of a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas on November 26, 2021 (AFP / PAUL RATJE)

To save their year-end season from stockouts, retailers had taken extraordinary measures, such as importing and stocking items earlier than usual, ordering air freight shipments and, in some cases chartering their own vessels.

With mixed results, however: while big box chains like Walmart and Target are doing well with well-stocked inventories, others, on the other hand, like Gap and Nordstrom, have already reported lost sales for lack of get all the products you want on time.

Gap thus plans to keep the late items for next year, rather than having to clear them, explained the financial director of the sign, Katrina O’Connell, during a conference call with analysts on Wall Street this week. .

– New variant –

But the prices do not stop climbing. Inflation, a “priority” for Joe Biden, is at its highest for 31 years.

Energy prices alone soared 30.2% in October from October 2020, according to the Commerce Department’s PCE index, weighing on household finances in a country that is extremely dependent on cars. Food prices have also jumped.

This is weighing on consumer sentiment, which plummeted in November, according to the University of Michigan, which released the preliminary results of its monthly survey on Wednesday.

And another threat is now added: that of a new variant of Covid-19, detected in South Africa and potentially very contagious, which could derail the global economic recovery.

The news knocked Wall Street down on Friday when it opened, including airline, cruise line and oil company titles. On the other hand, Zoom and Peloton, which became very popular during the first confinements, have started to rise again.

Consumption, the engine of the American economy, had taken off again at the end of the summer, after a fluctuation in July linked to the Delta variant.

In October, retail sales rose 1.7% from September and 16.3% from a year ago, to $ 638.2 billion, according to Commerce Department figures, which showed however been inflated by inflation.

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