Retailers are facing an oversupply of inventory that poses a threat to their bottom lines. The excess merchandise is largely due to the supply chain snarls that were a consequence of the pandemic. Shipment delays resulted in product deliveries that missed the season for which they were intended. These products then piled up in warehouses.
Now, retailers like Walmart (WMT) and Nordstrom (JWN) are finding it necessary to slash prices to clear out the excess inventory, freeing up needed space as they prepare for the busy upcoming holiday shopping season.
At the same time, consumers’ shopping behavior is changing in response to inflationary headwinds. Executives at both Best Buy (BBY) and Macy’s (M) recently noted that customers are dialing back their purchases. Dollar General (DG) has witnessed consumers favoring lower-priced options and leaning more on credit cards for purchases.
Market observers note that consumers have cut back on purchases and are prioritizing necessities. Still, consumer sentiment has shown improvement over the last two months, likely because wages are increasing amid low unemployment.
The counterbalance of high inflation and a strong labor market makes for a rather murky outlook for retail. Many retail executives anticipate this holiday season will see the slowest sales growth in years. As companies vie for customers’ attention, shoppers may be delighted to see discounts on items as they check off their holiday shopping list.
Others may ditch the list altogether. A PricewaterhouseCoopers survey found respondents planned to spend a little less this year. The company predicts experiences like get-togethers and meals may replace gift-giving this year.
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