How The Economy Is Affecting Holiday Shoppers

As the holidays get closer, shoppers consider the most popular gifts of 2021, the shopping market in the United States, and how these are all being impacted by the economy. 

Various sites and organizations release lists of top gifts, but an interesting place for shoppers to look is Google’s “Shopping Holiday 100,” which was released last month. It predicts the most popular items of the year for the holiday season using Google searches.

According to the Google searches, coffee makers, gaming devices, and fitness equipment were top items this year, suggesting that people are continuing to spend more time at home. However, there are some signs that Americans are beginning to venture out and interact: beauty products, perfume and cologne were also popular searches, as well as some outdoor sports items.

Colognes and perfumes trended higher this year than they have in the past, and in November, when the list was released, Google told NBC News that searches for “best perfume” have gone up around the world by 40% in 2021. Google’s list described 2021 as the “year of the fragrance.”

Gaming has continued to be popular in previous years, and it was this year, too. The top gaming console was the Nintendo Switch OLED, but the Nintendo 64 and the Game Boy were also high up on the list, even though those are older gaming devices.

Queries for “wireless gaming headset” increased by 100%, and Google searches for the phrase “single player games” have gone up 600%, per NBC News.

The timing of the searches is also an interesting factor, which gives some insight into the economic status of the country. 

The term “Christmas gift ideas” went up 30% from the middle of October to the last full week of October, perhaps indicating that people were starting to look for gifts around that time, according to NBC News.

The supply chain crisis was already impacting many Americans at that point in time, and was dominating the news.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg appeared to make light of this effect in the middle of October.

In an interview on CNN, he was asked about product delays, and said, “I think there’s always been two kinds of Christmas shoppers. There’s the ones who have all their list completed by Halloween, and then there’s people like me who show up at the mall on Christmas Eve. If you’re in that latter bucket, obviously there’s going to be more challenges.”

Last week, the Commerce Department announced its advance monthly sales for retail and food services in November. It showed that sales at retail shops and restaurants in the U.S. went up by 0.3%, seasonally-adjusted. Growth is expected, but this was lower than expected growth.

The report also showed electronics stores sales down 4.6% in November from the month prior. General merchandise stores sales were also down 1.2%.

Some industries were up significantly since last year. Food and drinking services were up around 37%, and clothing sales were up around 35%, possibly because people are leaving the house and returning to restaurants again.

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