Inflation falling for toys during holiday shopping season

Posted at 7:02 AM, Dec 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-19 08:02:56-05

(LEX 18) — The holiday season is entering its final days which means many people are finishing up (or maybe just now starting) their holiday shopping.

As consumers continue to fill malls and department stores, inflation continues to be a lingering issue.

However, when it comes to common gifts going under Christmas trees this year, the financial burden that’s been felt all year long may not have as strong an impact.

Walmart’s CEO recently spoke to CNN, describing a significant drop in certain toys, sporting goods, and other apparel.

Dr. James Kirby Easterling, who teaches at Eastern Kentucky University, weighed in on that downward trend.

“We are seeing some lower prices in particular industries and categories such as toys as well as some clothing and apparel items. Some particular areas of electronics,” Dr. Easterling said. “While we are seeing some lower prices. That doesn’t mean we have a wide selection.”

Dr. Easterling spent 22 years working as a supply chain executive prior to teaching at EKU. He’s traveled around the world, as far as Japan and Singapore, to examine and keep track of the global supply chain. Dr. Easterling’s point above paints a partial picture of tunnel vision for some of these toys and products.

While some distributors may have a lot of a particular product which is driving the price down, there’s not a wide variety of products to pick from.

“A lot of companies and retailers have bought large quantities from toy manufacturers. They have large amounts of inventory but the selection of products is somewhat limited,” Dr. Easterling said.

Dr. Easterling alludes to a release of tension log jams on the west coast and the retail industry’s continued recovery from the pandemic as factors that are helping inflation go down in some areas.

He also wanted to bring some context to the inflation rate itself.

The record-setting inflation has hovered in the range of 7-8%, but that represents the average rate of inflation.

Easterling references products like food and drink have estimated near 15% inflation while these toy categories are below the 7% threshold, even after being up 3-4% in October compared to 2021 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

At the end of the day, Easterling believes consumers should take this as a hopeful sign that inflation will continue to drop even after the holidays wrap up.

“I think it’s always good news when customers can feel good about their limited amount of funds that they have for shopping discretionary spending that they feel that money is going a little bit further than it has in the past,” Dr. Easterling said. “I’m optimistic that we are going to continue to see some downward momentum with prices overall.”