Good news-bad news

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

There’s good news and bad news when it comes to Christmas shopping this year, according to Nebraska’s economic pundit Ernie Goss, Ph.D., of Creighton University.

First the good news: Consumers will have more cushion in their budget and more cash to spend, thanks to two federal stimulus programs.

They’ll be traveling more, thanks to fewer pandemic-related restrictions this year.

They’ll be doing more local shopping and won’t have to worry as much about presents arriving in time.

Goss expects that shoppers will do more in-store purchasing this year rather than online, which is a welcome switch for mom and pop retailers.

But there’s bad news as well.

Supply chain bottlenecks will see fewer items on the shelves and half of the 10% growth retailers expect to see will come from shortages in products due to supply chain bottlenecks. These disruptions are related to transportation delays and truck driver shortages.

Service will suffer because of worker shortages and checkout lines will be longer. The hiring shortage cause headaches for retailers who may find it necessary to cut back on customer service - something that hasn’t been seen in decades.

That local shopping? Part of it will be prompted by higher gas prices, and there are likely to be fewer choices of stores and products.

If you want to find bargains, you probably should have started shopping last week. There will be fewer deals overall, and consumers who shop earlier will be more likely to encounter deals than last-minut shoppers.

Plan a little extra time for that trip to Grandma’s house, because you’ll probably by driving instead of flying, thanks to fears about delays and cancellations, and you’ll pay extra at the gas pump for the honor.

Overall, however, the economy will be strong this holiday buying season, and if we’re on the buying side of the equation rather than the selling, it’s up to us to make this a Merry Christmas.

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