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Report: Shoppers slowed retail spending in November

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Posted at 5:24 PM, Dec 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 17:25:02-05

TAMPA, Fla. — As people across the country struggle with inflation, supply shortages, and growing COVID-19 cases, a report out Wednesday is shedding light on the state of retail spending.

Lately, shoppers have felt the pinch from the gas tank to the grocery store. Mother of six Heather Osterfeld explains she’s seeing rising prices everywhere.

“It’s definitely changed our budget quite a bit,” said Osterfeld.

The latest report out Wednesday shows Americans slowed their spending last month from October. According to the US Commerce Department, retail sales rose 0.3 percent in November from the month before when sales rose a revised 1.8 percent, weaker than some anticipated.

“We still have a lot of people who are struggling with income, who are struggling finding jobs, and that means that incomes are still going to be at a relatively low level. Couple that with the fact that we’ve got inflation going on, and not just inflation. In Tampa, we’ve got the highest inflation rate in the country,” said Michael Snipes, an Instructor of Economics at USF Sarasota-Manatee. “Those two things put together, people are going to have to make cuts somewhere, and they’re not going to make cuts on necessities.”

ABC Action News spoke to Snipes about what it all means and what these numbers signal for the economy. He thinks this is temporary, while explaining for the time being until we can get back to pre-pandemic levels, he says things might still be tough for a lot of people.

“It’s a little bit hard to predict exactly when we’ll get back. My best guess would be probably mid-2022,” said Snipes.

While numbers were weaker than expected, news of shortages also dominated headlines and may have pushed some consumers, like Osterfeld, to check off their holiday shopping lists early.

“We were slowly buying Christmas gifts. Started in September, which I usually don’t do, knowing that shipping was going to be an issue and prices would be higher,” said Osterfeld.