The year started out nicely for retailers. The 2021 holiday season was one of good cheer, with many consumers still supported by the U.S. government’s pandemic-related relief and vaccines mitigating the spread of COVID-19. People could go out, gather together and buy gifts, and they did.
A rebound continued for months as weddings and office work resumed, and wardrobes were refreshed. But the inflation that surfaced last year has persisted long enough to squeeze household budgets, and discretionary spending has taken a hit in the latter half of the year.
With inventories up, consumers wary and recession fears mounting, there are a lot of unknowns for the industry’s all-important final quarter.
To glean some clues about how it will go, Senior Reporter Daphne Howland and Associate Editor Dani James review some recent coverage leading up to the Black Friday weekend.