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Encouraging Words – December 4, 2023

Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Waller made headlines last week for a speech that implied he might support another pause in rate hikes when the Federal Open Market Committee meets on Dec. 12-13. Among the more hawkish members of the FOMC, Waller told an American Enterprise Institute audience, “I am encouraged by what we have learned in the past few weeks—something appears to be giving, and it’s the pace of the economy.  

“Data for October indicated an easing in economic activity, and forecasts for the fourth quarter show the kind of moderation that is more in keeping with progress on lowering inflation,” Waller continued, later saying, “I am increasingly confident that policy is currently well positioned to slow the economy and get inflation back to 2%.” 

Well, as the saying goes, one’s man meat is another man’s poison, and the encouragement Waller drew from a slowing economy—which implies reduced consumer spending—would not be shared by the retail sector. That being said, the latest ICSC Post-Thanksgiving Weekend Survey does offer some encouraging findings for brick-and-mortar tenants and owners.

Among the results of this year’s survey are the following: 

  • 75% of U.S. adults – or 195.6 million people – shopped over the five-day period beginning on Thanksgiving and ending Cyber Monday, in line with 78% in 2022. 
  • 68% of shoppers spent on gifts for others, while 43% spent on dining and 22% spent on entertainment and activities. 
  • For 70% of shoppers, the holiday weekend remained just as important for shopping as in the past, despite deals and promotions spreading throughout the holiday shopping season. 
  • 56% of consumers said they shopped as much as or more than in the past, up six percentage points from 2022. 
  • Two-thirds of consumers said they still have a significant amount of holiday shopping to do, despite shopping over Thanksgiving weekend. 
  • About 66% of Thanksgiving weekend shoppers – or 118.8 million people – spent money at a brick-and-mortar store, consistent with 2022 and up five percentage points from 2021. 
  • Of those who shopped at a physical store, 41% said in-store shopping is generally their preferred way to shop and make purchases. That’s up from 34% who said the same in 2022. 
  • Discount department stores remained the most popular destination for shoppers (50%), down from 61% in 2022. Dollar/variety stores (29%), apparel, footwear, and accessory retailers (26%), electronics stores (25%), and health and beauty (24%) saw a rise in popularity. 

“Our Post-Thanksgiving Weekend Survey revealed that consumers turned out to shop both in-store and online,” said Tom McGee, president and CEO of ICSC. “While economic factors may be changing some consumer behaviors, shoppers are still spending and retailers can expect to benefit from a strong holiday season.” 

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About Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny serves as Senior Content Director for Connect Commercial Real Estate, a role to which he brings 16-plus years’ experience covering the commercial real estate industry and 30-plus years in business-to-business journalism. In this capacity, he oversees daily operations while also reporting on both local/regional markets and national trends, covering individual transactions across all property types, as well as delving into broader subject matter. He produces 7-10 daily news stories per day and works with the Connect team and clients to develop longer-form content, ranging from Q&As to thought-leadership pieces. Prior to joining Connect, Paul was Managing Editor for both Real Estate Forum and GlobeSt.com at American Lawyer Media, where he oversaw operations at both publications while also producing daily news and feature-length articles. His tenure in B2B publishing stretches back into the print era, and he has served as Editor in Chief on four national trade publications. Since 1999, Paul has volunteered as the newsletter editor of passenger rail advocacy groups (one national, one local).