A Full Heart and a Stuffed Cart

Research shows that consumers are celebrating the holidays by spending more than ever before. See how 2021’s holiday season stacks up against pre-pandemic conditions.
McKenna Morgan

December 16, 2021

A holiday market
Marcin Rogozinski/Alamy Stock Photo

BACK IN 2019, holiday spending hit significant milestones. But in 2020, it was difficult to predict the state of holiday spending. As COVID-19 cases were on the rise, many countries shut down non-essential businesses to help combat the spread of the virus, including retail stores. With COVID-19-related shutdowns, the expected trajectory of these milestones for the following years shifted. However, these shifts were not as dramatic as circumstances would predict.  

Retail sales during 2020’s November-December holiday season grew unexpectedly to 8.3% over the same period in 2019 to $789.4 billion, exceeding the National Retail Federation’s holiday forecast despite the economic challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. The numbers include online and other non-stores sales, which were up 23.9% at $209 billion. Based on the NRF release, that trajectory is predicted to rise yet again. The NRF expects holiday sales during November and December to grow between 8.5% and 10.5% over 2020 to between $843.4 billion and $859 billion. 


2021 has been a much better year,” says Matthew Shay, president, chief executive officer, National Retail Federation. “There is considerable momentum heading into the holiday shopping season. Consumers are in a very favorable position going into the last few months of the year as income is rising and household balance sheets have never been stronger. Retailers are making significant investments in their supply chains and spending heavily to ensure they have products on their shelves to meet this time of exceptional consumer demand.” 

Read more of our special report in the

December 2021 issue

of License Global 


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