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Navigating Economic Challenges: Holiday Shoppers Poised to Spend Billions Despite Financial Pressures

"As Financial Pressures Mount, Anticipation Builds for a Holiday Shopping Rebound"

In the face of economic constraints impacting households, retail forecasters are bucking the trend, foreseeing a resurgence in holiday spending reminiscent of pre-pandemic norms. Despite the ongoing cost-of-living crisis fueled by inflation, escalating housing costs, and the resumption of student-loan payments in the United States, experts are predicting that consumers, faced with diminished discretionary income, will not shy away from loosening their purse strings this holiday season.

Contrary to expectations of tightened budgets, some retail prognosticators are even envisioning a return to the robust holiday shopping patterns observed before the pandemic. Deloitte's 2023 Holiday Retail Survey reveals a notable projection: US holiday spending is anticipated to surpass pre-pandemic levels for the first time. Stephen Rogers, Managing Director of Deloitte's Consumer Industry Centre, notes, "We're returning to some historic levels," emphasizing that participation in holiday shopping is nearly universal, with 95% of people planning to partake—an increase from 92% in 2022 and 88% in 2021.

However, amidst the optimism, the survey sheds light on the evolving dynamics. Consumers, while expecting to spend an average of just over $1,600 (£1,320), anticipate receiving fewer gifts due to the impact of inflation on prices. The holiday shopping window is also contracting, with a shift towards concentrated spending in the final two weeks of November, particularly on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as shoppers become more price-sensitive and await promotional deals.

Reflecting the changing landscape, an online shopping forecast by Adobe Analytics predicts record discounts of up to 35% across 18 different categories, with toys anticipated to have the most significant markdowns, followed by electronics and apparel. Cyber Week, spanning from the week after US Thanksgiving into the first week of December, is expected to be a hotspot for shoppers seeking the best deals. As financial challenges persist, the upcoming holiday season emerges as a critical test for consumer resilience and the retail sector's ability to adapt to evolving economic conditions.

"As Shopping Frenzy Looms, Retailers Brace for a Holiday Boom"

According to Stephen Rogers, Managing Director of Deloitte's Consumer Industry Centre, a substantial shopping surge is on the horizon, and retailers need to be well-prepared for the impending wave. The holiday season carries exceptional significance for many businesses, especially in the retail sector, where the fourth quarter often marks a crucial period for turning profits and securing financial success. Andy Challenger, Senior Vice President of job-search firm Challenger Gray & Christmas, Inc., underscores the vital importance of the holiday season for retail companies, as it represents an opportunity to reap significant financial gains.

As consumers increasingly turn to online platforms for their holiday shopping, retailers are gearing up for unprecedented activity on their digital storefronts. Adobe Analytics forecasts that US online shopping alone will surpass $221 billion (£183 billion) between November 1 and December 31, indicating a nearly 5% growth from the previous year. The pandemic has accelerated the trend towards online convenience, with over 60% of intended holiday spending expected to occur in the digital realm, according to Deloitte data.

However, the surge in consumer spending does not necessarily translate into a proportional increase in seasonal jobs this year. Unlike previous years when retailers offered substantial incentives to attract seasonal workers, the 2023 labour market for holiday hires appears more subdued. Major employers like Walmart, Macy's, and Target have announced hiring plans that show a decline from previous years, reflecting a cooler environment for seasonal hiring. Amazon, on the other hand, is among the companies expanding seasonal jobs in fulfilment and logistics, signaling a shift in the landscape of temporary hiring towards e-commerce support roles.

Andy Challenger emphasizes that while traditional seasonal holiday jobs were historically in physical retail locations, the evolving nature of the industry now sees a growing demand for positions that support e-commerce. These roles include back-office jobs, order fulfilment, warehouse positions, and delivery jobs—a shift that underscores the transformative impact of e-commerce on the employment landscape during the holiday season.

"Seasonal Employment Trends Reflect E-commerce Dominance in Holiday Hiring"

In a marked departure from traditional hiring patterns, e-commerce is spearheading seasonal employment trends, with Amazon leading the charge by announcing a record-breaking 250,000 seasonal positions in transportation and fulfilment. This figure, according to Andy Challenger, Senior Vice President of Challenger Gray & Christmas, Inc., stands as the largest seasonal hiring number ever recorded for any company, surpassing last year's count by an impressive 100,000.

While consumers gear up for a holiday spending season that, though relatively normal, may come with a slightly higher price tag than the previous year, retailers are anticipating robust figures closer to the holidays. However, for individuals relying on seasonal jobs to supplement their income or meet financial obligations, there lingers a sense of uncertainty as the holiday season approaches.

The landscape of holiday employment is undergoing a transformation, with e-commerce support roles such as transportation, fulfilment, and logistics witnessing heightened demand. Amazon's substantial seasonal hiring initiative underscores the evolving nature of the job market during the holiday season, highlighting a shift toward positions that cater to the surging demand in the online shopping realm.

Despite tighter budgets and financial uncertainties, consumers' determination to spend remains evident. Stephen Rogers, Managing Director of Deloitte's Consumer Industry Centre, notes that historical patterns indicate parents' resilience in making the holidays happen, irrespective of economic conditions. As the holiday shopping season unfolds, the evolving dynamics of employment and spending underscore the resilience of consumer behavior in the face of changing economic landscapes.

"As E-commerce Reigns in Seasonal Hiring, Holiday Resilience Prevails"

In the evolving landscape of holiday employment, e-commerce takes center stage, reshaping seasonal hiring trends with Amazon setting unprecedented records in transportation and fulfilment positions. This marked departure from traditional hiring practices reflects the transformative impact of online shopping on the holiday job market.

While consumers anticipate a holiday season characterized by normalcy tinged with slightly higher costs, retailers brace for robust figures closer to the festivities. However, for those reliant on seasonal jobs, a sense of uncertainty pervades. The job market, notably cooler this year for traditional holiday hires, sees e-commerce support roles emerge as the growth areas, challenging the conventional narrative.

Despite financial constraints and unpredictable economic footings, consumers remain resolute in their determination to spend during the holidays. Stephen Rogers of Deloitte's Consumer Industry Centre highlights a historical pattern: parents' unwavering commitment to making the holidays happen, irrespective of economic conditions.

As the holiday shopping season unfolds, the dual dynamics of evolving employment trends and consumer resilience weave a narrative of adaptation and determination in the face of shifting economic landscapes. In this landscape, e-commerce not only dominates seasonal hiring but also emerges as a symbol of the transformative forces shaping the future of holiday commerce.