This year, 11.5 percent of Americans plan not to buy gifts, according to a survey by accounting and business services firm Deloitte.
The number is the highest in 10 years, and more than doubles the 4.9 percent who said they would not shop during 2020’s holiday season, Bloomberg reported.
In 2019, 2.9 percent said they would skip gift-buying.
About 65 percent of those not shopping this year earn less than $50,000 a year, Deloitte said; among those making $100,000 or more, only about 12 percent will not buy gifts.
The K-shaped economic recovery economists have described—in which the gap widens between the well-off and low-income households—is “playing itself out in what consumers say that they’re spending,” Deloitte vice-chair Rod Sides told Bloomberg.
The 7- to 9-percent growth in holiday sales that Deloitte forecasts this season will come from well-heeled shoppers whose savings grew during the COVID Wars.
In contrast, spending by low-income households will plunge 22 percent from last year’s dollar amount, the company expects.
In early October, consumer sentiment sank to the lowest level since 2011, driven down by concerns about inflation, according to the University of Michigan’s benchmark monthly survey on the topic.
“We’re hopeful that as we get into 2022, we’ll find that real wage growth has been there [for lower-income workers], but the challenge is that inflation has eaten up that purchasing power,” Sides said.
TREND FORECAST: Supply-line blockages will keep a range of goods off store shelves this year, whether the store is online or at your local mall.
As reported by The Wall Street Journal, “the number of out-of-stock messages online is up 172% compared with January 2020, according to Adobe Inc., which tracks visits to retail websites and product categories. Of the 18 categories tracked by Adobe, apparel currently has the highest stock-out levels, followed by sporting goods, baby products, and electronics.”
However, there will still be plenty of products to buy.
The dollar volume of sales might increase over last year, but much, and perhaps all, of that increase would be due to inflation, not consumers’ expanded purchases. Thus, with supply low and demand high retailers will be asking for higher prices and giving out less holiday bargains.
Much of the retail industry depends on strong winter holiday sales to turn a profit. When that fails to happen this season, more storefronts will go dark and more retail workers will head for the unemployment line.
For retailers who survive, the current economic crunch will speed their adoption of automation, both at the checkout counter and in the back room.