The 2020 US holiday season posted better-than-expected retail sales growth, as huge ecommerce gains added to a surprisingly positive performance for brick-and-mortar retail. The early outlook for the 2021 holiday season is solid despite major economic uncertainty ahead.
Retailers hoping to capitalize on post-pandemic opportunities during the 2021 holidays need to begin planning right now. While there are many unknowns about when the US economy will bounce back and which sectors will have the strongest tailwinds, retailers can prepare for several factors that will likely come into play.
We forecast that total US holiday retail sales in 2021 will rise 2.7% to $1.093 trillion, while the season's ecommerce sales will rise 11.3% to $206.88 billion. Ecommerce will account for a record 18.9% of total holiday season retail sales.
The 2021 holidays will stand in stark contrast with the 2020 season. Certain behaviors will look like the mirror image of last year, while others will carry forward—and even strengthen—in the post-pandemic economy. Figuring out what those behaviors are and planning accordingly can put retailers ahead of the curve.
Though much is uncertain, here are a few of the biggest factors to consider:
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