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As COVID-19 continues to unfold, NPD is uniquely positioned to help you understand and react to changes as they happen. As the leading provider of sales tracking data covering stores and e-commerce, we report on what is actually occurring in the marketplace.

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U.S. Consumption Trends by Week

General Merchandise: Dollar Change Versus Year Ago

Compared to last year, U.S. general merchandise dollar sales increased by 87%* in the week ending April 3.

Source: The NPD Group/Point-of-Sale Early Indicator Report, NPD Universe, WE Apr 3, 2021
Industries Included: Apparel, Footwear, Auto Aftermarket, Watches, Housewares, Small Domestic Appliances, Toys, Video, Sports Accessories, Consumer Technology, Office Supplies, Prestige Beauty, Juvenile Products

Commentary*:

Dollar sales at discretionary retail increased +87% compared to last year for the week ending April 3, 2021. Substantial growth relative to last year’s levels was anticipated, given the store closures and consumer purchasing shifts that took place in the early weeks of stay-at-home advisories in 2020. Even when accounting for last year’s circumstances, consumer spending is especially robust. This is due to the recent stimulus check distribution, the vaccine rollout, and the return to more in-person activities. In fact, the main story this week is that even when comparing results for the week ending April 3, 2021 to the same week in 2019 (pre-pandemic levels), growth in consumer spending is readily apparent.

Looking at 2021 dollar volumes compared to both 2020 and 2019, our retail early indicator data shows sales grew +87% in the week ending April 3, 2021, compared to the same time in 2020, and +39% versus the same time 2019. The impressive gains compared to the pre-pandemic baseline (same week 2019) are particularly notable and reflect the strength of the U.S. consumer.

Industry Perspectives:

Matt Powell
Senior Industry Advisor, Sports

“Consumers will continue to be active and seek another set of outdoor activities as temperatures drop and we move through the winter months. We can expect backcountry’s popularity to carry through this season and for product demand to grow, especially as the COVID-19 crisis and social distancing measures continue, ski resorts make operational changes to accommodate the circumstances, and skiers and snowboarders pursue alternatives to get their alpine fix.”

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Stephen Baker
Industry Advisor, Technology & Mobile

“In 2020, consumers saw the value in bigger screens and newer, more modern technology to support their entertainment needs. This commitment to new technology and the value it can provide to the consumer will be key for the continued growth in larger screen TVs in 2021 and beyond.”

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Larissa Jenson
Industry Advisor, Beauty

“A big question on many of our minds is, when will experience spending return and what will it mean for beauty? Making it through an elongated period of time when consumer demand for your products has waned certainly requires tenacity. The good news for beauty is that spending on experiences will come back. Demand has not waned for experiences; we are just forced to forgo them for a period of time. While this is a threat to retail overall with a shift in spend, it could bring a much needed boost to beauty as consumers look to our products again when they prep for a well-deserved night out.”

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