Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for the National Retail Federation, has been making projections about consumer spending and other economic measures for more than 25 years—including 12 years at the NRF. Putting together the trade group’s annual holiday spending forecast is typically fairly routine, he says. But not this year. In fact, sorting out his 2022 predictions has been “damn difficult,” grouses Kleinhenz.
The primary thorn in the economist’s side is the same one that has been needling the rest of us: inflation. Among other things, Kleinhenz says, skyrocketing prices have made it difficult to suss out how consumers are spending—or not—their rapidly devaluing dollars. Add in the general volatility and uncertainty plaguing everything from stocks to interest rates to the job market, and you can understand why he and his fellow forecasters are at a bit of a loss.
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