After two years of spending heavily on vacations and other experiences that they were deprived of during pandemic lockdowns, Americans may be on the brink of pulling back — a cool-down that could help slow inflation.
The nation witnessed two years of red-hot “revenge spending,” the name economists and corporate executives gave to a spike in recreational spending and vacation splurging that followed coronavirus lockdowns. As demand rose, so did prices for airfares, hotels and other sought-after services.
But many of those price categories are now cooling. Hotel prices have recently climbed much more slowly on a year-over-year basis, and airfares fell in May, a report on Tuesday showed. If that trend continues this summer, it could contribute to a continuing slowdown in overall services inflation, something the Fed has been watching and waiting for.
“We see some slowing in so-called revenge categories,” said Yelena Shulyatyeva, senior U.S. economist at BNP Paribas, said ahead of the fresh inflation data.
Omair Sharif, founder of the firm Inflation Insights, said ahead of the report that he expects airfares and hotel costs to weigh on inflation in June and July. He does not expect hotels and domestic air travel to see the same sort of surge this summer that they experienced last year.
“We’re just not getting the same kind of pop any longer,” he said. “Airfares have pretty much stalled out.”
Consumers are not only getting back to more normal living patterns, they may also be increasingly cautious as they face high costs after several years of rapid inflation — and as they worry that the Fed’s interest rate increases might soon push the economy into a recession.