Cyber Week Falls Short, But Retail Still Poised for A Merry Holiday, Reports NPD

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Cyber week sales underscore continued changes in consumer shopping behavior and transition of needs. According to NPD's retail point-of-sale data, U.S. general merchandise sales declined 3% in the week ending December 5 compared to the same week last year, but combined with the 8 prior weeks, Holiday 2020 has shown 2% year-over-year dollar sales growth.1

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“The consumer and retail have adapted to the COVID-19 imposed lifestyle, and spending behavior so far this holiday shopping season reflects that,” said Marshal Cohen, NPD’s chief industry advisor, retail.

Cyber week sales underscore continued changes in consumer shopping behavior and transition of needs. According to NPD's retail point-of-sale data, U.S. general merchandise sales declined 3% in the week ending December 5 compared to the same week last year, but combined with the 8 prior weeks, Holiday 2020 has shown 2% year-over-year dollar sales growth.1

“Retail has emerged from Black Friday and Cyber week challenges poised to make the season look merry when few expected to see even small growth. The consumer and retail have adapted to the COVID-19 imposed lifestyle, and spending behavior so far this holiday shopping season reflects that,” said Marshal Cohen, NPD’s chief industry advisor, retail.

The impact of this year’s “new shopping season” continues to reveal itself over the course of the traditional peak holiday period – Black Friday wavered and Cyber Week was soft. But, the key to understanding these results is to put it into the broader context of the extended holiday season, which began in mid-October with Prime Days and other retail promotions. Faced with rising COVID-19 case counts, consumers’ needs shift as does their focus.

Top 10 YOY Growth Categories - Black Friday Week 2020*

General Merchandise Categories1, week ending November 28, 2020 vs. week ending November 29, 2019

1 - Building Sets (Toys)
2 - Monitors (Technology)
3 - Tissue & Dispensers (Office Supplies-Janitorial/Breakroom)
4 - Biography & Autobiography Books
5 - Handheld Specialty Cleaning (Small Appliances)
6 - Air Purifiers (Small Appliances)
7 - Paper Towels, Napkins & Dispensers (Office Supplies-Janitorial/Breakroom)
8 - Hand Cleaners (Office Supplies-Janitorial/Breakroom)
9 - Power & Equipment (Technology)
10 - Fashion Dolls/Accessories & Role Play (Toys)

“In addition to increases in case counts, uncertainty related to economic conditions will weigh heavy as we near the actual holiday – the timing of the vaccine and stimulus package will both have an impact on the season,” adds Cohen. “Retail will need to cater to the consumer’s new focus on how to get the product they want in a manner that is safe for themselves and their wallet – whether it is a gift or a necessity.”

For more information, or to speak with Marshal Cohen, contact Janine Marshall at janine.marshall@npd.com, and check NPD’s special holiday coverage and follow #NPDHoliday on Twitter to see the latest insights across retail.

1 Source: The NPD Group/Point-of-Sale Early Indicator Report, NPD Universe, WE December 5, 2020
2 Source: The NPD Group/Retail Tracking Service, apparel, athletic footwear, beauty, Blu-ray/DVD, office supplies, small appliances, technology, toys, video games.
*Seasonal Category Tracking is based on a subset of industries available weekly at a category level.

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