Washington, D.C. — The National Retail Federation (NRF) has reported that retail sales during last year’s November to December holiday season increased 14.1 percent, or $886.7 billion over those in 2020 ($777.3 billion). The 2021 numbers were greater than what the NRF had predicted and set a new record despite ongoing headwinds such as supply chain issues and the spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant. Retail sales were tracked from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31 and exclude data from automobile dealers, gas stations and restaurants. Retail sales fell by 2.7 percent seasonally adjusted in December from November but increased by 13.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year. The sector with the biggest sales gain during the holidays were clothing and clothing accessory stores, which saw an increase of 33.1 percent. Additionally, sporting goods stores were up 20.9 percent; general merchandise stores were up 15.2 percent; furniture and home furnishings stores were up 15 percent; building materials and garden supply stores increased their sales by 13.5 percent; and health and personal care stores were up 9.6 percent. Also, online and other non-store sales were up 11.3 percent, which falls in line with NRF’s prediction made in October of a growth rate between 11 to 15 percent.
“Consumers were backed by strong wages and record savings and began their shopping earlier this year than ever before,” says Matthew Shay, president and CEO of NRF. “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.”