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NRF: Holiday Retail Sales Exceed Expectations

Specialty Food Association

Holiday sales increased 8.3 percent to $789.4 billion over the November-December period in 2020, according to the National Retail Federation. This increase exceeded the NRF’s holiday forecast, despite the economic challenges of the pandemic.

"Despite unprecedented challenges, consumers and retailers demonstrated incredible resilience this holiday season,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “Faced with rising transmission of the virus, state restrictions on retailers and heightened political and economic uncertainty, consumers chose to spend on gifts that lifted the spirits of their families and friends and provided a sense of normalcy given the challenging year. We believe President-elect Biden’s stimulus proposal, with direct payments to families and individuals, further aid for small businesses and tools to keep businesses open, will keep the economy growing.”

The 8.3 percent increase was more than double the 3.5 percent average holiday increase over the previous five years.

“There was a massive boost to most consumer wallets this season,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz, in a statement. “Consumers were able to splurge on holiday gifts because of increased money in their bank accounts from the stimulus payments they received earlier in the year and the money they saved by not traveling, dining out or attending entertainment events. Some families are still struggling, as are some retail sectors. But the promise of a new round of stimulus checks after a deal was struck before Christmas helped increase consumer confidence. Consumers were also encouraged by the news of COVID-19 vaccines becoming available, which helped offset concerns about increased infection rates and state restrictions on activity.”

Related: Retail Therapy: Customer Demand, Supply Chain Issues Cause Retailers Holiday StressWegmans Builds Holiday, Winter Product Reserves.