With the holidays just around the corner, navigating a high inflation environment may make shopping a little more challenging this year.
But it’s not just the rising cost of living conspiring against consumers. The supply chain has some kinks that weren’t there last year that could raise prices. And frustrated airline travelers would be advised to book well ahead of time if they want to avoid the highest fares.
Bankrate.com’s September holiday shopping survey noted lower income brackets would pull back the most this holiday season. They reported that 45 percent of the lowest-income holiday shoppers – under $50,000 in annual household income – said inflation would change how they shop, versus 41 percent who make between $50,000 and $79,999; 33 percent who make between $80,000 and $99,999; and 34 percent who make $100,000 or more.
Concerns about inflation are expected to drive the hunt for deals and sales this year, according to global influencer marketing platform LTK’s 2022 holiday survey.
While the drive to shop earlier has been a continuing trend, almost half of consumers in the survey said they would start buying gifts between September and mid-October, and 36 percent reported they plan to shop even earlier.
Supply Chain Issues
While holiday supply chain issues didn’t materialize as expected in 2021, bottlenecks may occur this year. In September, the World Economic Forum (WEF) noted that inflation’s impact on consumers could make it difficult for retailers to predict how much inventory to carry this holiday season. As a result, higher prices for in-demand goods could follow if there’s too little product. Hopefully, shoppers will find ample stock on store shelves.
The WEF also reported that labor shortages at ports and warehouses would contribute to uncertainty around delivery times. In addition, the American Truckers Association continues to report a driver shortage – even as the median salary rose to $85,000 for drivers in private fleets in 2021.
Production has issues too. The WEF said energy shortages, the product of global instability, could cause manufacturers to pull back due to higher costs. Additional pressure is on China’s powerhouse manufacturing. The Yangtze River is experiencing an extreme drought impacting hydroelectric power, in addition to pushing water levels low on the main artery to the country’s ports.
CheapAir.com released its 2022 Holiday Flight Report in August, analyzing 11,000 travel itineraries to determine the best-value months to book holiday flights.
While holiday airfare is expected to remain higher than usual this year, the best way to secure affordable flights is to plan ahead and book early. The report found that September is the best month to book flights for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. Fares typically increase after that.
If you still haven’t booked, airlines struggling to meet traveler demand means that there’s no time like the present. CheapAir.com noted Thanksgiving airfares were trending 25 percent more than 2021 prices, and Christmas prices are up by 28 percent.
They also noted booking either short holiday trips or longer ones would yield the most savings. Booking on December 24, the night before Christmas, has some of the best savings of the week. Additionally, Travelers can save more than $125 per ticket on average by flying home on Wednesday instead of returning the Sunday after Christmas, which will be the most expensive day to fly this holiday season, CheapAir.com said.