Consumers ‘tightening their belts’ amid high inflation: Shopping expert

Shopping expert Trae Bodge revealed on Tuesday the best deals to look out for this Labor Day weekend as consumers are being “very careful” amid an inflationary environment.

“We hope that things will loosen up as we move forward into the holiday season, but right now, I think consumers are being very careful,” Bodge told “Mornings with Maria” on Tuesday.

She pointed to the latest data from the National Retail Federation, which showed that spending at retail stores stalled out in July.

The shopping expert argued that the data is “a real indicator” that “consumers are tightening their belts.”

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Retail sales, a measure of how much consumers spent on a number of everyday goods was flat at 0% in July, unchanged from the prior month, according to the Commerce Department. (iStock)

Retail sales, a measure of how much consumers spent on a number of everyday goods, including cars, food and gasoline, was flat at 0% in July, unchanged from the prior month, the Commerce Department said earlier this month. Economists surveyed by Refinitiv expected sales to rise 0.1%.

This marked a major decline from an increase of 0.8% in June, which was downwardly revised from the initial report of a 1% uptick.

The July advance is not adjusted for inflation, meaning that consumers may be spending the same, but getting less bang for their buck. When taking inflation into consideration, retail sales would likely show a modest, but steady decline in recent months.

The data came as consumers face the worst inflation spike in a generation: The government reported earlier this month that the consumer price index – which measures a basket of everyday goods including rent, food and health care – climbed 8.5% in July. While that is a marked drop from the previous month, it shows that inflation remains painfully high.

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Bodge said that Americans have been turning to generic and off-brand items amid persistent inflation, noting that that consumer behavior has become a “trend.”

“People are shopping for groceries at the dollar store, for example,” she said. “They are using more generic brands and so we are seeing just a general overarching tightening of the belt right now, of course because inflation is so high.”

Retailers typically offer sales around Labor Day to get stores ready for the pivotal holiday season. This year, however, there are more pre-Labor Day sales than in years past due to a problem hitting retailers across the industry: excess inventory.

In 2021, retailers saw tremendous demand and were ordering a lot of goods to meet the demand, however, supply chain disruptions caused significant delays for a range of products. By the time they finally hit shelves, consumer clothes shifted as people traded workout attracts for work attracts once again, and demand waned due to a surge in inflation.

On Tuesday, Bodge revealed the best savings this holiday weekend for those consumers trying to conserve cash.

“As we get a little bit closer to Labor Day weekend, on Friday, I would start looking for mattresses,” Bodge said, noting that at some stores, customers can save hundreds of dollars.

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“I would also look for appliances, furniture and… summer clearance, so think patio furniture, grills, summer clothing and footwear.”

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