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September 15, 2021

US holiday retail sales expected to increase by up to 9%

The US retail sector is set to experience a merry holiday season with growth spurred by elevated consumer spending on services and continued growth in e-commerce sales.

By Beth Wright

US holiday retail sales are likely to increase between 7-9% in 2021 compared to the same period last year, according to Deloitte’s annual holiday retail forecast.

Overall, Deloitte’s retail and distribution practice projects that holiday sales will total US$1.28- $1.3 trillion during the November to January timeframe.

Deloitte also forecasts that e-commerce sales will grow by 11-15%, year-over-year, during the 2021-2022 holiday season. This will likely result in e-commerce holiday sales reaching between $210-$218bn this season.

“We anticipate strong consumer spending for the upcoming holiday season,” says Daniel Bachman, Deloitte’s US economic forecaster. “As vaccination rates rise and consumers are more comfortable being outside of the home, we are likely to see increased spending on services, including restaurants and travel, while spending on goods will continue to hold steady. A steady decline in the savings rate to pre-pandemic levels will support consumer spending and keep retail sales elevated this season.

“Further, e-commerce sales will continue to grow as consumers demonstrate an ongoing and steady movement toward buying online across all categories.”

Bachman notes that the 2021 holiday season increase reflects continued growth. Last year’s holiday sales came in higher than expected, growing by 5.8%. The 2021 forecast projects a strong growth rate amid already elevated retail sales and growth in disposable personal income that is likely to remain flat heading into the season.

However, the Delta variant and ongoing uncertainty spurred by the pandemic may drive more spending on goods.

“Across channels, retailers should expect a strong holiday season as consumer spending levels are projected to remain high,” adds Rod Sides, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP, and US retail and distribution sector leader. “While consumer concerns about health and safety have eased since the last holiday season, pandemic-influenced shopping behaviours continue to gain traction. Retailers who remain resilient to shifting consumer behaviours and offer convenient options for online and in-store shopping, as well as order fulfillment, will be poised for growth this holiday season, and into the new year.”

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