For many retailers, the recent holiday shopping season was unlike any other as they contended with the disruption of the pandemic and its effect on consumer behavior. The result was a more extended holiday shopping season this year by design.
While the Commerce Department’s recent headline figure for retail sales dropped by 0.7% in December compared to November—the third straight monthly drop—and by 1.4% excluding autos, a look at the data through the lens of a longer time frame tells a more nuanced story.
Retail sales excluding autos for October through December over the past three years increased by 4.72% compared to 2019. Nonstore retailers—those that sell online—benefited as well, growing by 24.25% during that same period as the pandemic pushed many consumers online.
The data suggests that those retailers that emphasized online sales and started their holiday season earlier to capture dollars and to compete with Amazon’s Prime Day, which was moved to October, were able to capture additional top-line sales during the period.
For more information on how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting midsize businesses, please visit the RSM Coronavirus Resource Center.