November with its Singles Day (11th), Black Friday (25th) and Cyber Monday (28th) is considered the "Super Shopping Month" of the year. The sales figures for these shopping days show how dazzling Christmas sales will be for retailers. The first event was Singles Day, which originated in China and is dedicated to single people on 11 November. The date, comprising only ones, is symbolic of single people.
Singles Day seems to be stalling. An indication of this comes from the Chinese retailer Alibaba. For the first time since the start of Singles Day in 2009, it did not disclose any revenues. The retailer only announced that the sales of the 11-day shopping event were at the previous year's level (sales in 2021: CNY 540 billion, around CHF 72 billion). Other Chinese retail giants such as Tmall or JD recorded flat to slight growth. However, this is significantly below the previous year's level. What's more, demand for consumer staples like food, household goods and personal care products exceeds that of cyclical consumer goods (such as watches and apparel). Consumers are therefore focusing on essential goods, which may be interpreted as a sign of consumer weakness.
Inflation is eating away at sales growth
The National Retail Federation (NRF), the world's largest retail trade association, provides information on how big shopping appetites could be. The association predicts sales growth of around 6% to 8%. This is significantly less than in 2021 at 13.5%. Although the expected sales growth is above the long-term average of 4.9%, the forecast does not take into account the high inflation in the US. This is hampering sales growth. According to the NRF, households are likely to spend an average of 833 dollars on gifts, decorations, groceries and other Christmas-related purchases, which is the average for the past decade. Taking inflation into account, however, Christmas-related expenditure is declining by almost USD 70 or -8.4%.
Significantly fewer seasonal workers in the retail sector in the US
The Association of US Retailers and Online Retailers is also sceptical. It expects retailers to hire between 450,000 and 600,000 seasonal workers in the US. For comparison: in 2021, almost 670,000 seasonal employees were taken on. This is equivalent to a decline of -10.4% to -32.8%.