According to the latest holiday spending statistics by the National Retail Federation (NRF), which defines the holiday spending period as the months of November and December, US holiday season sales have been growing at an average of 4.2 percent per year from 2010 to 2020.

In 2010, consumers spent $528.8 billion during the year-end shopping season. Since then, holiday retail sales have been steadily increasing. 

The largest of these annual growths came in 2020. At an 8.3 percent increase year-over-year, which takes the 2020 holiday retail sales to a total of $789.4 billion, this growth is more than two times the four percent rise from 2018 to 2019. 

It also came rather unexpectedly for a year that was plagued by economic challenges triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, NRF analysts had predicted a growth of up to 5.2 percent to $766.7 billion. 

Experts say that 2020’s holiday retail sales growth is thanks to a boost in US consumer sentiment. More specifically, shoppers have more purchasing power than in previous years because of the stimulus payments received throughout the course of the year as well as having more money saved from cutting back on social activities and traveling.

Sectors Driving 2020’s Holiday Retail Sales Growth

Of the retail sectors that contributed to 2020’s holiday season sales growth, the biggest increase came from online and other non-store sales. Their combined sales grew by a whopping 23.9 percent from the previous year.

Such notable growth in ecommerce holiday spending should come as no surprise, considering that the internet was consumers’ top shopping destination in 2020. Because many brick-and-mortar stores shut down to stem the spread of the coronavirus, many consumers took to shopping online. 

In fact, as many as six out of ten US consumers surveyed just before the holiday season had said they planned to do their holiday shopping online. 

Other sectors driving the US’ holiday retail sales in 2020 include businesses selling building materials and garden supply, whose sales increased by 19 percent, as well as sporting goods stores, which increased by 15.2 percent. 

Grocery and beverage stores follow behind with a 9.6 percent increase, and the fifth-biggest driver of the 2020 holiday retail sales increase is health and personal care stores, whose sales rose by 5.4 percent.

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