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Christmas gets greener and greener

The holiday season is now in full swing. Cold air, Christmas decorating headaches and long lines at stores and the post office. There’s less than two weeks until Christmas Day, and shoppers are expected to spend more than last year on gifts and comforts.

The National Trade Federation’s annual consumer spending survey forecasts retail sales in November and December to increase between 4.3 and 4.8 percent over 2017, for a total range of $717.45 to $720.89 billion. This doesn’t include money spent on automobiles, gasoline and restaurants, according to the press release.

“Our forecast reflects the overall strength of the industry,” NRF President and Chief Executive Officer Matthew Shay stated in the press release. “Thanks to a healthy economy and strong consumer confidence, we believe that this holiday season will continue to reflect the growth we’ve seen over the past year.

“While there is concern about the impacts of an escalating trade war, we are optimistic that the pace of economic activity will continue to increase through the end of the year.”

Holiday sales in 2017 totaled $687.87 billion, a 5.3-percent increase over 2016 and the largest increase since the 5.2-percent, year-over-year gain seen in 2010 after the Great Recession.

“Last year’s strong results were thanks to growing wages, stronger employment and higher confidence, complemented by anticipation of tax cuts that led consumers to spend more than expected,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz stated in the press release. “With this year’s forecast, we continue to see strong momentum from consumers as they do the heavy lifting in supporting our economy.

“The combination of increased job creation, improved wages, tamed inflation and an increase in net worth all provide the capacity and the confidence to spend.”

I’ve even gotten onto the shopping train early, and for the first Christmas I can remember I’m not going to be scrambling at the last minute to get gifts for people. I just needed a few nights spent ordering online.

That convenience has become a bigger and bigger monster of a shopping trend each holiday season these past several years. Shopify Plus published an article on shopify.com that collected data on 2018 holiday trends, based on industry statistics and more than 600,000 merchants.

According to the article, $123.73 billion is estimated to be spent in November and December year, an increase of more than $17 billion compared to the same time last year. Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday are still the biggest online shopping days, but December is expected to outperform November by nearly $7 billion.

That’s millions upon millions of people trying to figure out what to get their friends, family, loved ones or even just acquaintances. That’s another holiday season across the United States, and that’s a lot of time and money.