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Holiday Spending Experiences Huge Growth in 2021

The National Retail Federation (NRF) released the holiday spending numbers for 2021, which grew 14.1 percent over 2020. Holiday spending topped $886.7 billion, blowing NRF’s forecast, which was a growth of 11.5 percent, out of the water. The increase comes in light of supply chain issues and labor shortages across the county. 

That number includes $218.9 billion in online and nonstore sales, which were up 11.3 percent from 2020, and sales from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31. 

“We closed out the year with outstanding annual retail sales and a record holiday season, which is a clear testament to the power of the consumer and the ingenuity of retailers and their workers,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay says. “Despite supply chain problems, rising inflation, labor shortages and the omicron variant, retailers delivered a positive holiday experience to pandemic-fatigued consumers and their families. Consumers were backed by strong wages and record savings and began their shopping earlier this year than ever before. The numbers are clear: 2021 was an undeniably outstanding year for retail sales.”

The amount spent and the growth rate both broke records, previously held by the $777.3 billion spent in 2020 and 8.2 percent growth that year. Over the past five years, growth has been 4.4 percent. 

“Retail sales displayed solid momentum throughout the holiday season,” NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz says. “Holiday spending during 2021 reflected continued consumer demand that is driving the economy and should continue in 2022. Nonetheless, we should be prepared for challenges in the coming months due to the substantial uncertainty brought by the pandemic.”

Specifics from key sectors for the two months combined, all on an unadjusted year-over-year basis, include:

  • Clothing and clothing accessory stores, up 33.1 percent
  • Sporting goods stores, up 20.9 percent
  • General merchandise stores, up 15.2 percent
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores, up 15 percent
  • Electronics and appliance stores, up 13.8 percent
  • Building materials and garden supply stores, up 13.5 percent
  • Online and other non-store sales, up 11.3 percent
  • Health and personal care stores, up 9.6 percent
  • Grocery and beverage stores, up 8.6 percent

About Lindsey Thompson

Lindsey joined the NHPA staff in 2021 as an associate editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. A native of Ohio, Lindsey earned a B.S. in journalism and minors in business and sociology from Ohio University. She loves spending time with her husband, two kids, two cats and one dog, as well as doing DIY projects around the house, going to concerts, boating and cheering on the Cleveland Indians.

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