There’s a lot of conjecture about whether the boom in home is here to stay. We’re worried about inflation. Really, with manufacturers and retailers to pay higher wages to entice workers to start and stay at their jobs, the rise of raw material prices, and the expense of logistics, where is the breaking point? When will consumers say, “I’ve had enough—I’m not spending another dime at these prices”? 

Spending by U.S. consumers in major cities is up more than 15% compared to two years ago, fueling a rapid economic recovery that remains on fragile footing as we’ve entered 2022. 

As of December, Affinity data show a resilient consumer in the face of rising prices and pent-up demand among the wealthiest, according to a report by Bloomberg. Affinity tracks more than 100 million credit and debit cards nationwide. This analysis, focusing on more than a dozen major metro areas, sheds light on pandemic patterns that have reshaped the economy. 

Among the habits consumers have formed: buying more books and home-improvement tools. Inc., Costco Wholesale Corp. and lower-cost mass retailers like Walmart Inc. emerged as winners. Besides a continued emphasis on home-improvement chains like Home Depot Inc. and Lowe’s Cos., there’s also been sustained spending increases on both realtors and furniture stores. Some analysts say that homeowners are seeing home improvement as a way to build and store value as inflation rises. 

In this issue, Calista Sprague explores what’s happening with kitchen and bath projects in 2022. We hear from a flooring retailer who had her biggest sales year during the pandemic. And we’ll continue to introduce you to all that’s new and trending in floors this year.