The NRF says Omicron’s concerns could shift holiday spending to retail goods.

A man with a hand full of shopping bags walks by as sales kick off on Black Friday at The Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass in Simpsonville, Kentucky on November 26, 2021.

John Cherry | Reuters

As Americans bought gifts during the peak shopping weekend of Thanksgiving, the discovery of the omicron variant made headlines and prompted health officials to take action.

National Retail Federation CEO Matt Shay said on Tuesday that the Covid-19 variant could reshape spending this holiday season and spend more dollars on electronics, toys, clothing and other items in lieu of vacations and movie tickets.

“Unfortunately, we know that when options had a real impact on the economy, the commodity side of the economy actually benefited from it because people change their behavior away from the economic side and spend more time and more dollars involved. in the commodity side of the economy, “he said during a telephone conversation with reporters.

Holiday sales are expected to rise to a record high of $ 843.4 billion to $ 859 billion in November and December, representing an increase of 8.5% to 10.5% this year, according to the National Retail Federation. The trading group confirmed its rosy outlook for the holiday season on Tuesday.

Experience-based gifts such as travel vouchers, restaurant gift cards and spa days are expected to return this year as more Americans feel comfortable leaving their homes.

About 43% of consumers said they plan to spend on experiences and service gifts this holiday season, according to a survey of roughly 1,500 U.S. consumers conducted in August by consulting firm Accenture. The survey found that this trend was more pronounced among the younger generation: 53% of millennials and 50% of Gen Zers said they were planning to spend on experience.

Shay said the trade group is confident that consumers are willing to spend money despite the new option. He said the pandemic looks very different this holiday season as more Americans are fully vaccinated.

“We think there is a reason to be aware, a reason to follow the protocols that we have always followed regarding safe methods and vaccinations, but there is no reason to panic,” he said.

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