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Most of us are worried about Christmas shopping, but we're going to spend a lot anyway

Erin McCarthy, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Ho, ho, happy September.

It still feels like summer. The kids have only been back at school for a matter of days. And astronomical fall is still a week away.

But, hate to break it to you: It’s pretty much the holiday season.

At least in the retail world.

Deloitte unveiled its holiday shopping forecast last week, predicting retail sales nationwide will see a bump of between 3.5% and 4.6% this November through January, compared to last year.

At the same time, more than half of shoppers have at least one negative opinion about holiday shopping, according to a Bankrate survey also released this week:

—33% think inflation will affect their shopping

—25% report being worried about costs

—23% said they’re prepared for a strain on their budget


—13% report feeling pressured to spend more than they should

Yet, despite these Grinch-y sentiments, U.S. consumers are expected to spend about $1.54 trillion to $1.56 trillion this holiday season, according to Deloitte’s annual retail forecast, with between $278 billion and $284 billion of those sales occurring online. A Philadelphia-specific forecast has yet to be released by the company.

“This season e-commerce sales should continue to be strong as consumers search for the best deals online to maximize their wallets,” Nick Handrinos, a Deloitte vice chairman, said in a statement.

The easing of inflation, as well as wage growth and low unemployment, should keep people spending, Deloitte experts said, though dwindling pandemic savings could keep some folks from splurging as much as they did in recent years.

Some shoppers are starting early and spreading out their spending.

About 12% of U.S. consumers said they planned to begin their holiday shopping by the end of August, according to the Bankrate survey, with another 12% saying they’ll get started this month. More than a quarter said they expected to buy their first gifts or decorations sometime in October.

Financially, experts say it is not a bad idea to get a jump on the process.

“While September feels early to be talking about holiday shopping, it’s actually very smart to start thinking about holiday shopping well ahead of time,” Ted Rossman, Bankrate’s senior industry analyst, said in a statement. “If you haven’t already, begin putting a list together of what you want to buy and how much you can afford to spend.”

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