Holiday sales in November and December will grow between 8.5 and 10.5 percent over last year, according to research from the National Retail Federation (NRF).
That’s compared to a previous high of 8.2% in 2020, itself a record, and compared to average growth of 4.4% over the past five years.
The NRF broke out “online and other non-store sales” from the total and said it expects it to increase between 11 and 15 percent to a total of between $218.3 billion and $226.2 billion driven by online purchases. In comparison, that number is up from $196.7 billion in 2020. (Online and non-store sales comprised about 25% of total sales last year).
The NRF said the 2021 forecast of between $843.4 billion and $859 billion in holiday sales excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.
The NRF even considers weather in its holiday forecast, basing it on economic modeling that also considers employment, wages, consumer confidence, disposable income, consumer credit, and previous retail sales.
“Weather traditionally factors into holiday sales, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a high likelihood of a La Niña pattern of cooler and wetter weather in the north and warmer and drier weather in the south. This climate phenomenon has in the past correlated with stronger retail sales and could be a factor in 2021.”
NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said, “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.”
“Pandemic-related supply chain disruptions have caused shortages of merchandise and most of this year’s inflationary pressure,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. With early shopping this year, shortages could develop in the later weeks of the shopping season.
“However,” he said, “if retailers can keep merchandise on the shelves and merchandise arrives before Christmas, it could be a stellar holiday sales season.”
NRF defines the holiday season as November 1 through December 31. See the full press release with a chart showing historical holiday sales going back to 2002 on the NRF.com website.