Consumers spending for holidays as incomes rebound after pandemic lull, study finds

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The fast approaching holidays could be a happier time for merchants and consumers, compared to last year when the coronavirus pandemic impacted income and spending.

A new national survey indicates people have seen their incomes rebound. With that, they have money and confidence to spend it.

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What a difference compared to a year ago. Retailers and shoppers appear to be optimistic about the fast approaching holiday shopping season. Why?

The international audit, tax and consulting firm KPMG says 67 percent in a new survey say their income has returned or has exceeded pre-pandemic levels. And nearly one in three plan to shop in stores on Black Friday. That's twice as many as last year.

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"We have a lot of people now saying Black Friday is a little bit of a sport, and I'm looking forward to getting into stores on Black Friday to do some shopping and take home products with me on that day, said Scot Rankin, who leads KPMG's consumer and retail strategy consulting services.

Online shopping will remain strong, a lingering impact over safety concerns during the pandemic. However, consumers will need to prepare for potential shortages online and in stores due to cargo ship delays and supply chain issues. For that reason, about six in 10 surveyed say they'll start their holiday shopping this month.

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"What normally would take a couple of weeks for us to get or even a week has stretched out to about a month or so," noted Michele Johnson. She manages Mariette Chocolates in San Jose's Willow Glen district. Many shops like this are expected to see a rebound from the pandemic downturn as vaccination rates raise confidence in holiday socializing.

"People are saying they're going to go to holiday parties. They're going to buy more gifts for co-workers, and what that means is they're going to spend more money," said Rankin.

KPMG projects consumer spending will increase seven percent over last year with computers, hardware, jewelry, travel and games leading the way. A big change could take the form of extending courtesy when shops get crowded.

Customers graciously tell Johnson "we'll wait at the door" because the chocolate store is small. "We'll wait at the door and let the other customer take care of their needs."

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