Highs And Lows Of 2021 Holiday Retail Sales

National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights and Analytics survey reported that consumers plan to spend $997.73 this holiday season – purchasing gifts, holiday items and other non-gift purchases.

This increase in spending may be an indication of people’s desire to enjoy the holidays as much as possible – in lieu of being able to travel, and the lack of going out, spending, and traveling throughout the rest of the year. 

49% of shoppers starting making their purchases in November this year – the highest percentage yet to start this early on. Last year only 42% of shoppers began holiday shopping as early as November. 

“Over the last few years, consumers have demonstrated the desire to begin their holiday shopping earlier and earlier. This year in particular, as retailers promote holiday inventory, they are taking advantage of additional offerings such as free shipping, buy online, pick up in store and even expedited shipping to ensure they receive their gifts on time,” said Phil Rist, Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy. 

Even with the increased early shoppers, Black Friday online sales saw a slight dip from the previous year. The day’s online sales were $8.9 billion this year, down from the $9 billion spent in 2020. And customers spent a total of $10.7 billion on Cyber Monday. 


The influx of early online shopping was driven by concerns of in-store shopping due to the pandemic, uncertainty of the future of COVID, and the supply chain issues we’ve been dealing with across the country. 

According to NRF, clothing and accessory store sales had one of the greatest year-over-year sales growth – up 35.3% over last year. However, it’s important to keep in mind that last year’s numbers were down significantly, so the comparison is a little skewed.

Brick-And-Mortar Store Traffic 

According to data from RetailNext, brick-and-mortar store traffic was up by 61% on Black Friday compared to last year, but of course we know that last year’s traffic was significantly impacted by the pandemic and quarantines. The in-store traffic figures were still 27% lower than per-pandemic levels. 

“While in-store shopping is still not back to 2019 levels, more shoppers felt comfortable visiting stores in person this Black Friday than in 2020. One driver of this increased traffic could be ongoing supply chain challenges and shipping delays,” said Brian Field, senior director of global retail consulting at Sensormatic Solutions.

Thanksgiving Day traffic to physical stores decreased by -90.4% compared to 2019 as many retailers closed on Thanksgiving Day, much like they did in 2020.

Holiday Season Spending

Speaking about the rest of the holiday season, Field said, “With concerns about supply chain delays, we expect to see consumers make the most of in-store shopping opportunities. Coupled with unified commerce options like buy online, pick up in-store and pickup at curbside, consumers can ensure they are getting their holiday shopping done when and where it’s most convenient and in using fully integrated inventory intelligence retailers can feel confident in the accurate data powering each shopping channel.”

With only Christmas Eve left to make any last minute in-store buys or gift-card purchases, we will soon see how the final holiday numbers shake out during another year of uncertainty.

The Tycoon Herald