Strong Ga. economy, consumer confidence to boost 2017 holiday shopping

Local and national economic experts expect the next four weeks of holiday sales to be among the strongest in years as the American economy chugs along after a long period of slow growth.

But it might not be enough to save your local Macy’s or Toys “R” Us.

With lower unemployment, a surging stock market and rising consumer confidence, consumers are willing to spend at a level close to those seen pre-Great Recession, the experts said.

“In 2016, the median household income, adjusted for inflation, finally passed 2007 levels,” said Chris Christopher, an economist at London-based financial analysis firm IHS Markit. “That is leading to consumers to feel more confident. It’s going to be a good year.”

Overall, 2017 holiday sales are expected to be up 4.2 percent nationally over 2016, Christopher said. Online sales are projected to make up 18.3 percent of holiday sales, up from 16.8 percent last year, Christopher said.

A recent survey of more than 4,000 Georgians by AAA Auto Club Group found that state residents plan to spend an average of $946 overall on holiday gifts in 2017 — 14 percent more than they spent between Thanksgiving and Christmas last year.

There’s a 40 percent increase in the number of shoppers who plan to buy gifts this holiday season.

“People are making a little more money and feeling comfortable traveling and purchasing things,” said Megan Osborne, a Triple A spokeswoman.

The sales uptick won’t take pressure off brick-and-mortar retailers, Christopher said. Toys “R” Us filed for bankruptcy protection in September in part because of the impact of online e-commerce competition, such as Amazon, and greater interest in consumer electronics, such as phones and tablets, instead of dolls and board games.

Other big box giants, such as Macy’s, Sears, JCPenney and Kohl’s, are expected to weigh whether to continue closing under-performing stores in 2018 after the holiday numbers come in. The brands have already shuttered locations at North DeKalb and Northlake malls, the Mall at Stonecrest and other shopping centers around the metro Atlanta area.

The next generations of shoppers — millennials and Generation Z — are expected to increase their spending during the holidays this year compared to 2016, according to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

The organizations found that consumers aged 18 to 24 — which include the oldest members of Generation Z — plan to spend 46 percent more this year than last. Millennial consumers — those ages 25 to 34 — will spend 39 percent more in 2017, the survey found.


The AJC's Leon Stafford keeps you updated on the latest happenings around metro Atlanta’s Southside area. You'll find more on, including these stories:

Never miss a minute of what's happening in local politics. Subscribe to

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Business

Hartsfield-Jackson to rebid CNN contract
Hartsfield-Jackson to rebid CNN contract
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport plans to extend its contract for CNN Airport Network programming airing around the terminal and concourses, as it makes plans to rebid the contract. Atlanta-based CNN’s current contract for network news broadcast system at the Atlanta airport started in 2006. The contract was due to expire in 2016 and...
Ex-Equifax exec is arraigned and freed; pleads not guilty
Ex-Equifax exec is arraigned and freed; pleads not guilty

Jun Ying sat silently in court Thursday while Magistrate Judge Linda Walker debated the merits of letting him await trial a free man. The slightly built Ying, the former chief information officer of a sizeable Equifax unit, wore a tieless, blue dress shirt, black, beltless pants and a chain that bound his ankles. He was indicted Tuesday on charges...
Mercedes announces innovation lab as it opens Sandy Springs HQ
Mercedes announces innovation lab as it opens Sandy Springs HQ

Mercedes-Benz will open an innovation lab in metro Atlanta to dream up new products and business lines, a surprise announcement Thursday that came as the German automaker opened its glistening new North American headquarters in Sandy Springs. Lab1886, a reference to the year the founders of Mercedes’ parent company, Daimler Group, built the first...
High Museum photography exhibit features views of Hartsfield-Jackson
High Museum photography exhibit features views of Hartsfield-Jackson
A new photography exhibit that debuted this month at the High Museum of Art features images of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The exhibit, called “Mark Steinmetz: Terminus” at the Atlanta museum running March 3-June 3 includes more than 60 works by Steinmetz, an Athens-based photographer. The exhibit is located on the lower level...
Mercedes-Benz USA to open Sandy Springs headquarters
Mercedes-Benz USA to open Sandy Springs headquarters

Mercedes-Benz USA on Thursday will hold a ceremonial opening its permanent home in Sandy Springs, a North American headquarters that will eventually house about 1,000 high-paid corporate jobs. The $93 million complex at Abernathy and Barfield roads near Ga. 400 is a calling card for company, and a symbol of the company’s new start in metro Atlanta...
More Stories