Your weekly 5-minute guide to the data and economic news shaping Southern Nevada and the world.

In this week's newsletter:
  • Black Friday and Cyber Monday
  • Holiday spending
  • Turkey prices
  • Statistic of the Week
  • What We Are Watching
  • Weekly Poll
By the numbers
84 percent
Portion of shoppers who feel confident in their budgets and spending plans for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Graphic Source: Deloitte
Despite the increases in prices and interest rates over the past year, consumers are projected to spend more on deals this Black Friday-Cyber Monday (BFCM). In 2022, consumers spent, on average, $500 during the post Thanksgiving holiday weekend. This year, consumers are projected to spend upward of $567; a 13 percent YoY increase. 84 percent of shoppers report feeling confident in their budget plans and anticipate spending a comparable or greater amount than before, with 8 out of 10 planning to shop during the long weekend. 

“Holiday creep” appears to be a recurring theme with Black Friday discounts appearing before the Thanksgiving holiday. Companies are giving consumers more time to buy gifts and address shifting demands for goods. E.g. sales and discounts starting sooner and running longer. As a result, total online sales have increased so far by 6 percent to a total of $76.8 billion in November. This might be due to the popularity of financing options (ex. Klarna or Affirm) and more generous discounts. Last year, 30 percent of holiday shopping was done online, a similar portion is forecasted to do so again with the ever growing popularity of online Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts. 

$966.6 billion
 The estimated amount of holiday spending for November and December.
Graphic Source: NRF
The National Retail Federation (NRF) recently forecasted that holiday spending will grow by roughly 3.0 to 4.0 percent from 2022 to between $957.3 billion and $966.6 billion in 2023. This increase likely reflects a shift in consumer spending as online shopping has become increasingly more popular (see article above). Despite recurring fears of a recession, online and other non-store sales are expected to increase between 7.0 to 9.0 percent. Nevada alone is forecasted to reach a record of $6.4 billion in sales this holiday season. 

This holiday spending is expected to employ approximately 345,000 and 450,000 seasonal workers, which matches last year’s seasonal hires of 391,000. On average, consumers will spend an extra $42 compared to a year ago on holiday spending, likely a result of inflation and wage increases. According to a survey conducted by the NRF, sales and promotions are even more important this holiday season than last. Considering BFCM sales are starting sooner and running over a longer time, it gives more people a reason to hunt for discounts from the comfort of their homes or at their preferred venue. Happy shopping!

16 percent
The decrease in turkey prices compared to last year.
Graphic source: Wells Fargo
Despite the appetizing Thanksgiving deals from last week, consumers should not expect substantial savings on their holiday meal preparations, even with the recent slowdown in food-at-home inflation. While turkey prices for consumers were 16.0 percent lower year-over-year, the benefits of the reduction may not have been fully passed on to consumers, since the spread between wholesale and retail prices remained historically large, allowing companies to keep most of the savings. This contrasts with the negative spread wholesalers experienced in October 2022, signifying a scenario where supermarkets were essentially operating at a loss on turkeys to get consumers, and their dollars, in the store.

Those who prefer ham have it no better than the turkey crowd as retail ham prices were near an all-time high. High feed costs and steady hog prices limited expansion, leading to stable pork production but elevated ham prices at the grocery store. Other Thanksgiving staples showed varying price trends: fresh cranberries were 20 percent cheaper, russet potatoes were at all-time highs, and canned green beans had increased by nearly 9 percent. Leafy greens for salads offered a value option with prices down around 10 percent, sweet potatoes remained a cost-effective choice, while canned pumpkins saw a 30 percent increase.

In the beverage sector, beer prices have risen by 5.3 percent, driven by factors like aluminum and transportation costs, while wine prices only increased by 1.2 percent, attributed to a glut in global supply making it challenging for domestic producers to raise prices. In navigating these market dynamics, early shopping, coupled with a keen eye for sales, has become an indispensable strategy for a budget-conscious Thanksgiving celebration.

Statistic of the Week

4.6 million - the number of individuals expected to travel by plane this Thanksgiving holiday, a 6.6 percent increase from 2022 and the highest number since 2005 according to AAA. Note, labor unrest from this summer is not over as both American Airlines flight attendants and Southwest Airlines pilots are petitioning the government to strike after the Christmas holiday.

What we are watching this week
The Mortgage Bankers Association of America will release the U.S. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. The contract interest rate in the United States decreased to 7.41 percent during the week ending November 17, the lowest rate in eight weeks. Mortgage borrowing costs have fallen 45 basis points in November, as the Federal Reserve’s rate hikes may have come to an end.  

The U.S. Department of Labor will release the initial jobless claims for the week ending November 24. During the week ending November 18, the number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits decreased by 24,000, bringing the total claims to 209,000 and somewhat below market estimates of 225,000 claims. Individuals seeking continuation of unemployment benefits decreased by 22,000 to 1,840,000 total claims, indicating a slowdown in the labor market. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the PCE Price Index. In September 2023, Core PCE rose 3.7 percent year over year (Y0Y), which is the lowest rate since May 2021, and fell slightly below market expectation of an estimated 3.8 percent (YoY). Core PCE increased by 0.3 percent month over month (MoM) from the 0.1 percent MoM increase observed in August. 
Last Week's poll results are in!
Poll of the Week:
What is your least favorite holiday song?
All I Want for Christmas is You - Mariah Carey
Last Christmas - Wham!
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas - Michael Buble
Jingle Bell Rock - Bobby Helms
White Christmas - Bing Crosby
Baby, It’s Cold Outside - Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong
Holly Jolly Christmas - Michael Buble
You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch - Thurl Ravenscroft
Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer - Elmo & Patsy
I don't listen to holiday music
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UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research Website