Regardless of worries about inflation or the availability of certain items: after nearly two years of gloom, American consumers seem ready to open their wallets widely during the holiday season.

The traders, who have had no trouble selling their stocks at the start of the school year or on Halloween, are preparing for a new shopping spree this Friday, for the traditional day of big promotions following the celebration of Thanksgiving, the ” Black Friday “.

The recent price hikes don’t seem to scare them too much, even though gasoline has jumped 60% year-over-year or Thanksgiving meal is expected to cost 14% more than in 2020, according to the American Farm Bureau. .

“Everything indicates that American consumers are looking to celebrate the holiday season (…). They just want to find their family and friends,” said the boss of the supermarket chain Target, Brian Cornell, last week .

After all the logistical problems of the last few months, large distribution groups like Walmart have claimed to have enough stocks for the tree to be well stocked.

Particularly prized items may be missing, such as certain game consoles or specific Apple electronics.

A little less choice

Customers “will not necessarily find their first choice,” warned the boss of the Foot Locker sports shoe chain, Richard Johnson.

But “if the size, color or style they want is not available, they have shown a real ability to continue their research and, with the help of our sales people, to find a product that suits them”, he added.

The question of whether there will be toys at Christmas surfaced as early as this summer and gained momentum as bottlenecks in the supply chain did not resolve.

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The White House even intervened in October to announce that two major ports on the west coast would be extending their working hours. The number of containers staying on the docks of the port of Los Angeles, the largest in the United States, has dropped drastically since.

Other problems remain to be resolved, such as the lack of truck drivers or warehouse handlers, however, underlines Jen Blackhurst, a supply chain specialist at the University of Iowa. There could thus be delays in deliveries.

“I don’t think there will be massive shortages (…), but I don’t think the holiday season will be completely normal either,” she said.

The American Federation of Traders (NRF) expects sales to rise 8.5% to 10.5%, stressing that the end result will depend on the ability of traders to fill the empty spaces in their shelves.

Health restrictions?

Large corporations have gone to great lengths to minimize disruption, importing items earlier, using planes, sometimes even chartering their own ships.

“We have found solutions,” summarized the head of the parent company of clothing and decoration stores TJ Maxx, Ernie Herrman. “That doesn’t mean we don’t pay high prices. But the teams have found ways to bring in the goods.”

Some stores like Walmart and Target have assured that they will not charge consumers with increased costs. TJ Maxx has taken a “case by case” approach and increased the price of certain products.

Other chains such as Macy’s department stores or Williams-Sonoma kitchenware have eliminated the rebates.

Macy’s has conducted over 400 tests to determine when customers accept price increases or not.

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Unusually, the price increases are also affecting online purchases, which according to the Adobe site could represent 25% of sales over the holiday season this year.

Before the pandemic, the prices of items available on the internet tended to fall, thus contributing to a relative stability of the shopping basket. Since June 2020, they are increasing every month.

For Neil Saunders, distribution specialist at GlobalData, inflation “really affects the ability of consumers to spend”, but its impact should be felt more severely in 2022 than in the weeks to come.

The Covid-19 should not either, he argues, curb their enthusiasm, the United States not seeming willing to take new measures of health restrictions as in Europe. “A lot of people will just say there is enough,” he predicts.

This article was published automatically. Sources: ats / awp / afp

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