The rubber band effect drove much of the top performing product categories and retail brands in 2021, as they snapped back from mid-pandemic lows. Many standout performers from the 2020 holiday season also managed to extend their gains despite the challenging comparisons.
Apparel and accessories was the top-gaining category due to pent-up demand. With demand reinvigorated for new wardrobes for returning to the office and social events, apparel and accessories ecommerce sales surged 22.5% to $45.35 billion to make it the No. 1 category in terms of both growth and dollar figure. The category’s propensity to rise and fall with the availability of discretionary income was also a factor.
Consumer electronics also posted above-average gains. Consumer electronics clocked $44.66 billion, ceding the No. 1 position in ecommerce sales to apparel and accessories. But category demand remained strong. Apple’s blowout Q4 highlighted strength in iPhone, Mac, and AirPod sales, while gaming consoles, smart TVs, home audio, and smart home electronics all continued to perform.
Other holiday winners included Away, On Running, and Shein. Earnest Research estimated big gains for Away (up 79%) after demand for travel products bounced back from the previous year. Surging fitness brand On Running jumped 72%, while fast-gaining fast-fashion app Shein rose 103%. Holiday power brands Nike (up 20%) and Lululemon (up 10%) also saw healthy gains on top of strong 2020 holiday seasons.
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