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Not Just Jewelry: NRF Says 2021 Holiday Sales Grew Record-Setting 14.1% January 19, 2022 (0 comments)


Washington, DC—The final figures are in: total U.S. retail sales during 2021’s November-December holiday season grew 14.1% over 2020, to $886.7 billion. This figure—excluding automobile, gasoline, and restaurant sales—easily beat the National Retail Federation’s original forecast of 8.5%-10.5% growth over 2020, and set a record for consumer spending despite challenges from inflation, supply chain disruptions and the ongoing pandemic. It also topped the final figures from Mastercard SpendingPulse, which reported an 8.5% gain. NRF’s number includes online and other non-store sales, which were up 11.3% at $218.9 billion. 

“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,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “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.”

Shay also observed that the earlier shopping trend was why sales declined from November to December. 

Both the amount spent and the growth rate are new highs, topping the record 8.2% growth and $777.3 billion spent for holiday 2020. NRF forecast in October that 2021 holiday sales would increase between 8.5% and 10.5% percent over 2020, then revised its forecast upward in December to an 11.5% increase over last year. The 2021 results compare with an average 4.4% holiday sales growth over the previous five years.

Fine jewelers, of course, had a stellar holiday season in 2021, and consumers are entering 2022 in solid financial shape

“NRF expects further growth for 2022, and we will continue to focus on industry challenges presented by COVID-19, the supply chain, labor force issues and persistent inflation. The numbers are clear: 2021 was an undeniably outstanding year for retail sales,” continued Shay. Despite occasional month-over-month declines, sales have grown year-over-year every month since June 2020, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Related: More Takeaways From Holiday 2021

“Retail sales displayed solid momentum throughout the holiday season,” NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz added. “Worries about inflation and COVID-19 put pressure on consumer attitudes but did not dampen spending, and sales were remarkably strong. Even though many consumers began shopping in October, this was the strongest November and December we’ve ever seen. Despite supply chain challenges, retailers kept their shelves stocked and consumers were able to fill their carts both in-store and online. 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.”

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