Pedestrians carrying shopping bags cross a street outside the Macy & # 39; s flagship store in the Herald Square area of New York on Thursday, August 6, 2020.
Nina Westervelt | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Americans have shown that they enjoy shopping even during a recession and global health crisis, National Retail Federation chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said on Monday.
This could be a promising sign for retailers betting on Christmas sales, he said.
"Strong growth in retail sales in recent months indicates the resilience of consumers even in this disruptive pandemic environment," Kleinhenz said in the November issue of the retail group's Monthly Economic Review. "With all the evidence available, the US economic recovery has developed faster than generally expected."
Retail, the biggest engine of the U.S. economy, has rebounded in recent months – even as millions of Americans are unemployed and cases of Covid-19 rise. Retail sales rose 1.9% in September, above the economists polled by Dow Jones. Clothing and accessories rose 11% while sporting goods, music and books rose 5.7%.
Kleinhenz said the retail sector is still threatened by the increasing number of Covid-19 cases. According to the Johns Hopkins University, 81,493 confirmed infections were reported on Sunday. The seven-day average is 81,335.71, an all-time high that's up more than 18% from a week ago.
He said additional government incentives are needed to ensure the retail sector continues to recover.
"While there may be enough momentum and resilience in the months ahead to propel the economy forward, additional fiscal policy support is vital to ensure the recovery doesn't stall," he said.
Despite the appetite for shopping, the retail group expects consumers to spend a little less this year. Buyers said they wanted to spend an average of $ 997.79 According to a survey of 7,660 consumers carried out in early October, gifts, holiday items such as groceries and decorations, and additional expenses were given out for themselves and their families this year. That's a decrease of nearly $ 50 from last year.
Most of this expected decline is coming from people looking to buy less for themselves despite vacation offers in stores and on retailer websites, the NRF found.
The trading group has not yet released a forecast of vacation spending for the industry.