Retailers Are Prepared for Christmas Week Rush Despite Supply Chain and Omicron Worries

By Bryan Jung
Bryan Jung
Bryan Jung
Bryan S. Jung is a native and resident of New York City with a background in politics and the legal industry. He graduated from Binghamton University.
December 17, 2021 Updated: December 17, 2021

American retailers are preparing for the last week of the holiday shopping season beginning on Dec. 17.

The 2021 holiday season appears to be on track to reach as high as 11.5 percent growth over last year.

The last-minute Christmas rush beginning on Super Saturday is the most profitable season for retailers in the fourth quarter.

Super Saturday is expected to draw more than 148 million shoppers to stores and online retail, according to an annual survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

The number reflects a slight drop from last year’s Super Saturday, when 150 million consumers were expected to shop, which is higher than the estimated 147 million shoppers in 2019.

Consumers were estimated to have spent a total of $997.73 on holiday purchases so far this year, according to a report from the National Retail Federation (NRF).

“Consumers have responded with a growing eagerness to kick off the holiday shopping season early, and they expect to carry that momentum through the last few weeks of the year,” said Matthew Shay, President and CEO of the NRF.

The strong wave of early holiday shopping, which was encouraged by many retailers last month, may lead some consumers to spend less at the end of the season.

Roughly half of consumers said that they had completed their holiday shopping as of early December .

The report says that the number of anticipated Super Saturday shoppers is the third-highest reported since it began tracking this figure in 2016.

Over a quarter of consumers say that they plan to shop exclusively in-store, another third plan to shop exclusively online, while the remainder intend to do both.

Retail stores are also dealing with the supply chain bottleneck, which has eased in recent weeks, but still poses a problem.

“Retailers began preparations for the holiday season months in advance, offering seasonal inventory early and taking preventative measures to circumvent supply chain challenges exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Shay.

However, many shoppers are still having trouble finding retail items, with customers unable to make certain holiday purchases due to low or non-existent inventory.

Much of the United States is facing mild temperatures, with this week on track to be one of the warmest mid-December weeks in over 60 years.

The warmer weather may hopefully encourage consumers spend more time at retail stores instead of spending at home online, but fear of the Omicron variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus could push shoppers to stay indoors.

The Omicron variant has already forced some people to rethink travel plans, scale back family and social gatherings, or curtail expenditures on dining and entertainment.

Big retailers such as Target, Kohl’s, and Walmart have lengthened regular store hours and have expanded their same-day online and curbside pick up and delivery services through Christmas Eve.

Retailers are already preparing for post-Christmas week sales that will last into the new year.

The NRF survey found that 65 percent of holiday shoppers plan to shop during the week after Christmas, mainly to take advantage of store promotions and gift cards.

Bryan Jung
Bryan S. Jung is a native and resident of New York City with a background in politics and the legal industry. He graduated from Binghamton University.