The Thanksgiving holiday is traditionally one of the busiest and most important weekends of the year for retailers. And while traffic is likely up substantially from last year’s pandemic-impacted numbers, retail experts say everything from inflation to supply chain chaos is making it difficult to predict how consumers will spend this holiday season. John Talbott, director of the Center for Research and Education in Retail at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, says it’s the strangest time he has seen in his nearly 40 years in the retail sector.

“Just the variability in what consumers can access, can’t access, the uncertainty around labor. I’m as confused as I’ve ever been at this time of year,” said Talbott.

Talbott talked about the outlook for retailers and what just might be the most popular item this year on this weekend’s edition of Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.

According to Mastercard SpendingPulse, retail sales were up nearly 30% by mid-afternoon on Black Friday, well above the forecast of a 20% increase.

Overall, the National Retail Federation predicts a sales increase of 8.5% to 10.5% for November and December, compared to 8% growth for the same period last year.