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US holiday retail sales will see the strongest growth in over 20 years 

Insider Intelligence forecasts 9.0% increase to $1.147 trillion for November–December 


This holiday season, US retailers will see the highest year-over-year growth in over 20 years as holiday retail sales reach $1.147 trillion, rising 9.0% from last year. The last time US holiday sales exceeded this growth was in 1999, according to US Census Bureau data. Holiday sales growth will be led by the apparel and accessories product category, which will increase 16.2% overall and 25.5% online.  


“It’s shaping up to be a record-breaking holiday season. With consumers flush with extra cash and with vaccination rates climbing, retail sales have been rising at a brisk pace throughout the year,” said Insider Intelligence forecasting director Cindy Liu. “While the outlook remains bright, consumers will want to start their shopping early to avoid any delays and out-of-stocks. Retailers that can overcome these supply chain constraints are in for a stellar holiday season.” 


In 2021, US holiday ecommerce sales will grow by 14.4%, reaching $211.66 billion in sales. It’s expected that ecommerce will make up 18.4% of this year’s US holiday sales, up from 17.6% in 2020. Last-minute shoppers can continue shopping online thanks to click and collect, which has only grown in prominence this year. For the week leading up to Christmas, click and collect will likely play a huge role in driving additional sales gains. 


“Moderating ecommerce growth rates is inevitable given last year’s astronomical 32.0% increase during the holiday season,” said principal analyst Andrew Lipsman. “Our forecast of double-digit growth reflects ongoing strength in the channel, even though many top ecommerce retailers will face tough year-over-year comparisons. But brick-and-mortar will be the biggest bright spot as shoppers get back out to stores this year.”  


Although ecommerce will be the faster-growing channel, the biggest growth driver this holiday season will be brick-and-mortar sales. Making up 81.6% of total holiday sales, brick-and-mortar is expected to reach $935.79 billion, up 7.9% from 2020—a growth rate rarely seen in this channel. 


The Cyber Five promotional period—Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday—will represent 18.5% of total US ecommerce holiday sales, bringing in a total of $39.06 billion, with Cyber Monday, Black Friday and Thanksgiving ranking as the top three ecommerce spending days of the season. However, plenty of holiday shopping will be pulled into early November this year as retailers kick off early season promotions and shoppers seek to avoid shipping delays and out-of-stocks. 



eMarketer’s forecasts and estimates are based on an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from research firms, government agencies, media firms, and public companies, plus interviews with top executives at publishers, ad buyers, and agencies. Data is weighted based on methodology and soundness. Each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular reevaluation of available data means the forecasts reflect the latest business developments, technology trends, and economic changes.   


About Insider Intelligence  

Formed in 2020 from the combination of eMarketer and Business Insider Intelligence (BII), Insider Intelligence aims to be the world’s leading research service focused on digital transformation. Insider Intelligence enables thousands of global industry leaders to understand the critical trends and developments affecting their business in the short and long term. Each year, Insider Intelligence produces nearly 300 reports, 7,000 charts, 1,500 newsletters, and 200 forecasts across the Advertising & Marketing, Consumer Demographics, Social Media, Video, Mobile, Ecommerce & Retail, Telecoms & Technology, Financial Services, and Digital Health industries. Insider Intelligence is owned by European media giant Axel Springer S.E. 


Posted on November 9, 2021.