People shop for vacation items at the country store on Main Street in Stockbridge, Massachusetts on December 13, 2020.
Joseph Prezioso | AFP | Getty Images
According to the National Retail Federation on Friday, holiday retail sales rose 8.3% from 2019 as consumers used the gift season as a way to cheer themselves up during the Covid pandemic.
"With the virus spreading, government restrictions on retailers, and heightened political and economic uncertainty, consumers turned to gifts that lifted the spirits of their families and friends and made them feel normal in the challenging year," said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation, in a statement.
That is more than expected by the large retail group and more than double the average annual increase. NRF forecast in November that Christmas sales in 2020 will increase between 3.6% and 5.2% year over year, ranging from $ 755.3 billion to $ 766.7 billion. Americans were said to be spending more as they had less travel and dining expenses and were hoping for the Covid vaccine to be distributed.
Christmas sales have increased by an average of 3.5% over the past five years, and they have increased 4% in 2019, the NRF said. The sales exclude car dealerships, gas stations and restaurants.
The pandemic has messed up typical holiday shopping patterns. Many retailers started selling in October and closed their stores on Thanksgiving. You have put more offers online and expanded contactless options, e.g. B. Roadside collection to reduce the number of shoppers in stores.
Even so, there were some factors that the retailer could not get hold of, such as economic insecurity and unemployment during the recession and fewer gatherings with family and friends.
NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said the surge in Christmas sales was "truly phenomenal given the extremes this economy has been through". He said the month-to-month numbers reflect push and pull of factors from temporary store closures and vacations to stimulus payments.
Ultimately, he said, consumer mindset and savings accounts inspired them to spend. He said the sales figures suggest that more people want a vacation better than normal during a difficult year and that money has been set aside after they canceled their vacation and had fewer options to spend their money safely.
He said the desire to celebrate the holidays is great, even for low-income families and people who are unemployed.
"Vacation comes once a year and even the most economically challenged people still have an emphasis on vacation," he said. "They will try to do the best they can."
The Christmas sales also reflected pandemic trends such as: B. Cooking and sports at home and DIY projects. Online and other off-store sales saw the largest increase of nearly 24% year over year, according to the NRF.
Sales in building materials and gardening supplies stores rose nearly 20%. This was followed by sales of sports stores, which grew about 15%, and grocery and beverage stores, which grew nearly 10%. Sales in the health and personal care and furniture and home decor stores increased 5% and 2%, respectively.
Sales in general merchandise stores were virtually unchanged. However, sales in the electronics and housewares stores were down 14%. Sales in clothing and apparel accessory stores were down about 15%. Some laptop or pajama purchases were likely classified as online or non-in-store sales, as customers made purchases from their couches or used options like roadside pickup. Some electronics purchases may have been made earlier in the year when people were working at home and going to school.
Retailers have started reporting some of their individual sales results. Lululemon, which had strong sales in the leisure industry while working from home, forecast a profit at the high end of its expectations for the fourth quarter due to the strong holiday season. Comparable sales online and in-store increased 17% in November and December, according to Target, as vacation shoppers flocked to convenient, contactless options like roadside pickup. However, Nordstrom and Urban Outfitters reported disappointing holidays as many shoppers stayed away from malls.