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Will higher food costs cut into holiday gift shopping?

Austin Fuller, Orlando Sentinel on

Published in Fashion Daily News

WINTER PARK, Fla. — Elena Bean is getting into the holiday spirit and she’s noticed retailers are offering bargains for savvy shoppers.

“No matter what, everyone wants a good deal,” Bean said.

Bean, 35, of Orlando, was at Winter Park kids’ clothing and toy store tugboat & the bird picking up Christmas pajamas for her 8- and 6-year-old daughters. She had also picked up pickle ball-themed pajamas as a gift for her mom at a nearby Park Avenue retailer.

“I’m obsessed with the holidays and part of getting in the Christmas spirit for us is ... Christmas [pajamas],” Bean said.

Holiday shopping is expected to be up this year, but not enough to keep up with the nation’s soaring inflation rate. That will put Americans on the hunt for bargains, possibly forcing them to balance paying for gifts along with a more costly holiday meal.

The Conference Board, a nonprofit business research group, found in its holiday spending survey that people plan to spend $613 on average for gifts, down from $648 last year. But shoppers were expecting to spend more on non-gift items like food — $393 this year over $374 last year.


“Consumers appear to be rebalancing their budgets and priorities by reducing their gift-giving circles to help offset the higher costs of non-gift items, in particular food,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, in a news release. “Given this challenging landscape, retailers have already begun countering by offering shoppers earlier than usual discounts, sales, and incentives.”

The National Retail Federation revealed Thursday it expects retail sales in November and December will grow between 6% and 8% over a record 2021 to between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion. The Consumer Price Index in September ticked slightly higher to 8.2% compared with the last year.

“Consumers are looking for discounts,” said Matthew Shay, CEO of the National Retail Federation. “They’re looking for deals, for value to stretch their dollars in the face of higher energy prices, housing prices.”

Shoppers are tapping into savings and using credit, Shay said. A strong labor market might also be helping to offset some of the inflation, as wages and salaries went up 5.1% for the year ending in September, federal data shows.


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