The National Retail Federation (NRF) is confident in its forecast for record growth, though the impact of the pandemic on the nation’s economy will be a key factor in retail sales during the 2021 holiday season.
“There are several factors coming together to have a major impact on the holiday outlook, but household fundamentals are a bright spot in the uncertain present,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “Consumers are in a very favorable position going into the last months of the year and are spending because they can.”
The NRF is forecasting that 2021 holiday retail sales during November and December will grow between 8.5 and 10.5 percent over 2020 to a total between $843.4 billion and $859 billion. Even at the low end of the forecast, that would be both the largest growth rate topping last year’s 8.2 percent, and the largest total amount beating last year’s $777.3 billion.
The forecast excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants to focus on core retail, but includes online sales, which are expected to be up between 11 and 15 percent to between $218.3 billion and $226.2 billion.
The NRF says that a savings buffer of about $2.5 trillion accumulated by consumers who have largely stayed home rather than dining out during the pandemic has supercharged spending. At the same time, income is growing in the form of more jobs, more hours, and higher wages.