Holiday Retail Sales On Upward Trajectory Even If Not Back To Pre-Pandemic Level

Holiday Retail Sales On Upward Trajectory Even If Not Back To Pre-Pandemic Level

By Terri Jo Neff |

In October, the National Retail Federation projected nearly $860 billion in 2021 holiday sales, bolstered by customers planning to spend more than 2020. Online retailers and the brick-and-mortar type retailers were also told to expect one-half of shoppers to begin their holiday purchases even before Thanksgiving. 

Many economists also forecasted that holiday shoppers will be purchasing fewer items but would be willing to spend money for better quality and more substantive items, if supply chain problems don’t get in the way. All of which means a lot of eyes were focused on the results from the key Thanksgiving holiday shopping days including Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. 

Sensormatic Solutions provides services to retailers in the areas of inventory intelligence, shopper experience, loss prevention, and operational effectiveness.  According to Sensormatic, shopper activity on Nov. 26 through Nov. 28 increased more than 34 percent compared to 2020. During the same three days, however, traffic at brick-and-mortar stores was 21 percent lower than in 2019.

It is unknown whether the decision by most major retailers to remain closed all of Thanksgiving Day had any impact on buyer decisions. But one retail executive says December 2021 still provides unique opportunities and challenges for retailers.

“Shoppers are returning to stores, but there are still lingering health and safety concerns making some cautious of traditionally crowded shopping days,” said Brian Field, senior director of global retail consulting for Sensormatic. “With a data-driven understanding of customer concerns, retailers can implement processes to help make shoppers feel comfortable in stores – via occupancy monitoring, temperature checks, extended hours and a seamless contactless shopping experience.”

Sensormatic also looked at Cyber Monday data. One change over 2020 is that many retailers with physical stores made their online sales pricing and special offers available to in-store shoppers. But those Cyber Monday offers did not help generate additional foot traffic, which ended up being similar to a typical fall day.   

“Though the mix of weekday shopping had been on the rise throughout the pandemic as shoppers take advantage of more flexible work schedules and try to avoid weekend crowds, Cyber Monday typically has no impact on in-store traffic and the same was true of this year,” Field said.

Yet according to Field, the overall data shows retailers should breathe a sigh of relief with the direction holiday sales are taking.  

“Over the past month, in-store traffic has progressively improved as consumers have started their holiday shopping early,” Field said. “Retailers are seeing positive change year over year, and the Black Friday weekend data shows an upward trajectory toward pre-pandemic levels.”