General Merchandise: Dollar Change Versus Year Ago

Retail sales results during the first week of 2022 hint at a soft start to the new year, but there is more to consider before making that conclusion.

This week’s dip in dollars feels like a traditional post-holiday response, but the unit decline was much more dramatic. Few industries saw elevated spending compared to last year, and unit growth indicates only beauty had higher demand. Coming off a holiday season that continued the strong momentum seen in much of 2021 — and comparing to the period last year when many U.S. consumers received stimulus payments — it is still too early to say whether this is the new direction of retail sales. However, it does warrant careful observation over the coming weeks.

Compared to last year, U.S. general merchandise sales revenue decreased by 3% in the week ending January 8, 2021.

Source: The NPD Group/Point-of-Sale Early Indicator Report, NPD Universe, week ending January 8, 2022, Discretionary retail includes the following industries: accessories, apparel, auto parts, beauty, consumer technology, DVD/Blu-ray, footwear, housewares, juvenile products, office supplies, small appliances, sports equipment, toys, and video games