International travel resuming ahead of holiday shopping season a boon to business: NRF CEO

Matthew Shay of the National Retail Federation also discusses inflation, supply chain issues

National Retail Federation CEO Matthew Shay argued on Monday that the United States move to lift travel restrictions for fully vaccinated tourists is "very positive" and will help boost retail sales. 

"There is a very high correlation between international tourists and retail sales," Shay told "Cavuto: Coast to Coast" on Monday. 

"This is a wonderful time of the year to welcome international travelers here to the U.S." 

Shay made the comments on the same day bans on travel from specific countries ended. The U.S. will allow international travelers into the country as long as they are vaccinated.

The move comes more than a year and a half after COVID-19 concerns prompted the U.S. to close its borders to international travelers from countries including China, Brazil, India, South Africa, the United Kingdom and much of Europe.


"It’s a great thing for our country," Shay told host Neil Cavuto reacting to the U.S. allowing international travel once again.

"This is the number one travel destination for people around the world," he continued. "They love to come to the United States for lots of great reasons. One of those reasons, of course, is travel and entrainment, leisure, but also retail therapy."

Shay noted that 85% of international visitors "have told us historically one of the things they do while they’re here is they go shopping." 

"Lots of places around the country benefit from international travel and tourism," he stressed. 

The expected increase in retail sales from the resumption of international travel will come at a time when the industry has been rebounding. 

In September, consumer spending unexpectedly rose as retailers benefitted from back-to-school shopping and more workers returned to the office.

Retail sales, a measure of spending at restaurants, stores and online, last month rose 0.7% to $625.4 billion, according to the Commerce Department. Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting a 0.2% decline. The reading was 14.9% above levels from a year ago. 

The positive data comes as inflation has been plaguing the country. 

U.S. consumer prices in September accelerated at their fastest annual pace in 13 years. 

The Consumer Price Index rose 5.4% year over year in September, according to the Labor Department, matching the July reading for the hottest print since 2008. Prices increased 0.4% month over month. Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting prices to rise 5.3% annually and 0.3% in September. 

"Certainly inflation is an issue that’s impacting I think every retailer in the country," Shay said on Monday. 

"I’ve talked to dozens of CEOs, many of the retail industry leaders across the country who have told me in all segments of retail that they’re facing inflationary pressures both on products and on wage growth," he continued. 


"Retailers have invested billions of dollars in increased wages, in additional benefits, in additional leave, in bonus pay so there’s wage and labor inflationary pressures. As well as product inflation," Shay added. 

He also discussed supply chain disruptions, pointing out that "most of the nation’s large retailers and many of the mid-size and smaller retailers got ahead of this" and therefore, noted that he believes there will be "lots of products on shelves this year."

He did, however, warn that consumers may not get their first choice in every category, but will find their second or third choice. 

"So I think we will meet the demand for product," he told Cavuto, stressing that consumers are "open to buy" and "well-financed." 

Given the situation, he encouraged people to get an early start on holiday shopping so that they will have a better shot at finding the items they want to purchase for gifts. 

The National Retail Federation predicts this holiday shopping season will generate the most sales on record. Late last month, the federation announced their forecast that holiday sales during November and December will grow between 8.5% and 10.5% compared to the year before to between $843.4 billion and $859 billion. 


FOX Business’ Jonathan Garber and The Associated Press contributed to this report.