Shoppers stroll through the Bass Pro Shops in Portage. Staff photo by Joseph S. Pete
Shoppers stroll through the Bass Pro Shops in Portage. Staff photo by Joseph S. Pete
It's shaping up to be a busy holiday season at the Southlake Mall, Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets, River Oaks Center, Porter's Vale, Highland Grove and other retail destinations in the Region.

Strong November retail sales show this holiday season might break a new record in spite of the pandemic, supply chain disruptions and rising inflation.

Retail sales grew 0.3% in November as compared to October and 18.2% year-over-year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Despite economic headwinds, November retail sales data confirms that consumers continue to spend, as demonstrated by a 14 percent increase in sales year-over-year,” National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “We expect demand will remain strong through December, even though consumers started holiday shopping earlier than ever this year. Despite the rise of the omicron variant, increased vaccination rates combined with retailers’ ongoing safety protocols and procedures have resulted in consumers who feel they can continue to shop safely and conveniently. We believe that holiday sales this year could grow as much as 11.5 percent over 2020.”

The pandemic has benefited retailers as consumers have been spending more on things instead of experiences since COVID hit. Retail sales have grown year-over-year every month since June of 2020.

The National Retail Federation estimates November retail sales were up 14.8% this year. It forecasts sales could grow as much as 11.5% year-over-year in November and December despite more people shopping early because of feared shortages.

“Consumers continued spending in November, building on momentum from strong early holiday shopping in October and setting the stage for a bright holiday season,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Consumers’ financial condition remains healthy and neither stubborn inflation nor COVID-19 appear to have derailed holiday spending despite both being top of mind. Recent labor market progress has helped propel incredibly strong demand, and most shoppers have the income and savings to absorb higher prices driven by the pandemic and supply chain disruptions. While seasonally adjusted numbers may make the results look modest, seasonal patterns have been significantly disrupted by the pandemic and unadjusted data shows November’s sales as calculated by NRF were actually the highest on record.”

Sales were up 14.2% during the first 11 months of the year, according to the National Retail Federation. Consumers are expected to spend between $4.44 trillion and $4.5 trillion this year.

PNC Bank, which has locations in Merrillville, Schererville and Munster, estimates 15% holiday sales growth. About 10% will come from higher volumes and 5% from higher prices.

"More jobs and strong wage growth are also positives for consumer spending, as are low interest rates," PNC Chief Economist Gus Faucher said. "Retail sales will continue to increase throughout 2022. However, consumer spending growth will shift from goods to services over the next couple of years. Consumers have purchased a lot of goods since the pandemic, with November retail sales excluding food service up 23% from its pre-pandemic level, and thus have less need for goods in the near term. At the same time the recovery in services spending has lagged; households will be increasing their services purchases in 2022 and 2023 as they feel more comfortable going out."
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