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Cloud of inflation hangs over retailers, consumers as Memorial Day sales approach

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Both retailers and consumers will see how inflation could affect this year's Memorial Day sales. OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images

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Memorial Day weekend is around the corner, which means so are Memorial Day sales, which tend to start before the actual holiday. After what’s usually a sleepy winter of sales, Memorial Day is the retail industry’s spring awakening. 

“Spring is the time when we’ve gotta get the consumers back in the store, get some excitement going. And we do that with some big blockbuster sales,” said Sonia Lapinksy, a managing director at AlixPartners.

That’s especially true for electronics and furniture. Lapinsky said retailers will use this sales season as a barometer to understand how consumers are feeling about inflation. That’s top of mind for stores too. Between that and supply chain problems, Lapinsky said the sales outlook this year is “definitely going to be a mixed bag.”

Retailers might stick to a couple big doorbuster-type deals to lure in customers. Diana Smith, a retail analyst at Mintel, said they might lighten up on store-wide sales.

“You know, can they look outside of that towards non-monetary forms of value?” said Smith.

Like free or upgraded shipping, or buy now, pay later promotions. Because Smith said those things can go far with customers when competition for their wallets is tough.

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