Economist: Consumers may approach busy holiday shopping weekend with caution

We are all making those holiday shopping lists and checking them twice, but it appears shoppers may be feeling cautious this go around.
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 8:20 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Commerce Department reported U.S. retail sales fell slightly in October from the previous month, signaling shoppers may be feeling a little cautious.

Economists also report a drop in consumer confidence. But whether it will impact sales during one of the busiest holiday shopping weekends ahead is yet to be seen.

“Right now it’s so very important for consumers to analyze what they’re going to do for their holiday spending,” Cherry Dale, vice president of Financial Education at Virginia Credit Union, said.

Some of the factors weighing on shoppers include high interest rates on credit cards, student loan payments resuming after a long pause and generally higher prices of goods, despite inflation slowly slightly.

“I think there’s an overall hesitance perhaps in where we are in the economy with the inflation being as it is, housing market, as well, you know, people looking at how those interest rates are really impacting them,” Dale said. “We’ve seen interest rates obviously rise on those credit cards, so it’s really important as people are thinking about those choices, to keep those interest rates in mind.”

For some, budgets will be a little tighter this year.

“A little tighter, yeah,” Katie Lohr said while shopping in Carytown on Monday. “I’m a psychology resident so not making a bunch of money, but happy to spend it on friends and family.”

“I feel like this year things are a little bit more expensive. I don’t know if it’s because, you know, since COVID, people are buying more, going out more,” Lohr added.

For others, higher price tags won’t hinder them.

“Yeah I feel like things are getting more expensive, and that’s unfortunate for me, because my spending habits are the same,” Brooklyn Evans said during a girls’ outing in Carytown.

“I walk into a store and if they say they have a sale, I feel like I just need to buy everything,” Evans added. “And it’s just the deals and the holiday, so there’s an excuse to buy anything and that’s my problem.”

“I don’t really gauge it, you know, I have budgets and stuff, but I just kind of look to find things that speak to me and gifts I’d like to give to someone based on them personally,” Sheldon Young said while walking through Carytown. “I kind of gauge around that a little bit. I’ll spend what feels appropriate.”