The holiday shopping season is officially underway. Black Friday bargains are now behind us, Small Business Saturday is a memory and Cyber Monday surges along.
Online shopping hit record levels last Friday, despite consumers’ concerns about the economy being at the highest level since the 2008 Great Recession.
What will inflation and the growing popularity of online shopping mean for downtown retailers and the many other businesses, like restaurants, museums and theaters, that also count on holiday shoppers’ dollars?
Kiana DiStasi of the Chicago Loop Alliance is confident that consumers are ready to return to an in-person shopping experience.
“We expect to meet or exceed 2019 levels this year around the holidays,” says Distasi.
Rob Karr, president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, agrees, saying store traffic was up noticeably this year over the 2021 post-Thanksgiving weekend.
“Inflation has ebbed a bit for the consumer in terms of lower gas prices. While there’s still concern, they appear to be willing to spend and shop,” he said.
Deloitte Consulting recently released findings from its Chicago holiday retail survey.
“A lot of the holiday expenditures will be spent on experiences,” says Deloitte’s Matt Adams . “It’s not just gifts, but a return to going to restaurants, going to theaters, participating in the festive aspects of the season.”
That desire for a traditional holiday shopping and entertainment experience bodes well for downtown Chicago retailers, argues Kimberly Bares, CEO and President of The Magnificent Mile Association.
“The onset of the pandemic really forced retailers to make sure that their experience was as close to perfection as possible,” Bares said. “That experience, the nostalgia, people want to be back together and some of the most iconic architecture and experiences are on Michigan Avenue and the Loop.”