The summer of 2023 saw a surge in attendance at ballparks, a revival of the box office by Barbenheimer, and a renaissance of live performances. Americans' desire for post-pandemic experiences reached a fever pitch. Despite high inflation and rising interest rates, consumer spending remained strong. However, some economists and consumer analysts expect that pressures such as inflation and student loan payments could cause this resilience to weaken during the critical holiday season. Nevertheless, holiday spending may still be higher than pre-pandemic levels, with a focus on experiences rather than material goods. While consumers may become more deal-seeking and price-conscious, they are still expected to spend. The latest retail sales report shows continued growth, but a more comprehensive look at consumer spending will be revealed with the release of the Personal Consumption Expenditures data. Although consumer spending is expected to slow, households still have savings and job growth remains solid. However, there is a K-shaped recovery occurring, with wealthier households rebounding more strongly than lower-income Americans. Lower-income households may struggle to maintain their spending, especially those facing financial pressures from student loan payments.
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