Holiday 2020 Retail Sales Off to a Double-Digit Start, Reports NPD

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Holiday dollar sales* for the season to date grew +13% compared to the same 6 weeks last year, with video games, small appliances, technology, toys, office supplies, and books leading the way, according to The NPD Group’s latest retail sales reporting.1 This healthy start to the season is important as retail continues to be challenged by COVID-19 case surges that will have additional implications for the way consumers shop.

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“Retail’s focus on Black November seems to be paying off, but it remains to be seen if early sales will diminish retail’s performance over Black Friday weekend,” said Marshal Cohen, NPD’s chief industry advisor, retail.

Holiday dollar sales* for the season to date grew +13% compared to the same 6 weeks last year, with video games, small appliances, technology, toys, office supplies, and books leading the way, according to The NPD Group’s latest retail sales reporting.1 This healthy start to the season is important as retail continues to be challenged by COVID-19 case surges that will have additional implications for the way consumers shop.

  • Early in the season, 80% of holiday shoppers told NPD they planned to shop online this season, and less than half (42%) of all holiday shopping would be done in stores.2
  • The majority of general merchandise industries tracked by NPD are seeing e-commerce growth, now representing 30% or more of total dollar sales – more than half in technology and small appliances.3

“Retail’s focus on Black November seems to be paying off, but it remains to be seen if early sales will diminish retail’s performance over Black Friday weekend,” said Marshal Cohen, NPD’s chief industry advisor, retail. “While we are heading into retail’s big holiday weekend with some nice momentum, there are still several weeks ahead with many industries still looking to make up for the year’s losses. This may still prove to be a very challenging holiday season at retail, which means the focus could shift from sales volume to profit margin for those industries and retailers that are lagging.”

Watch to get the latest insights from NPD’s chief industry advisor: A Minute with Marshal Cohen – Consumers Overcome Distractions

Black Friday was the top shopping day of 20194 - Here are some insights into this year’s Black Friday shopper:

  • Those who were planning to start shopping on either Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday are more likely to buy for themselves as part of their retail therapy.2
  • They are likely still the deal-hunters. Holiday shoppers who planned to start shopping on Black Friday intend to spend an average of $643, less than early shoppers, and other traditional peak period shoppers.2

Average planned holiday spending for this year, based on when holiday shoppers planned to begin shopping.

  • Before Thanksgiving:    $876
  • Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Black Friday Weekend/Cyber Monday:    $680
  • December:    $448

The hottest categories so far this holiday shopping season continue to be led by technology products. But as holiday promotions increased, there was movement among the growth drivers in the first two weeks of November.

Top 15 YOY Growth Categories*
6 weeks ending November 14, 2020
1- LCD TVs
2- PCs
3- Video Games Hardware
4- Tablets & e-readers
5- Tissue & Dispensers
6- Hand Held Specialty Cleaning Appliances
7- Monitors
8- Stereo Headphones
9- Paper Towels, Napkins & Dispensers
10- VR/AR Hardware & Accessories
11- Building Sets
12- Sleepwear
13- Hand Cleaners
14- Fryers
15- Fashion Dolls/Accessories & Role Play

Will this list continue to change as the holiday shopping season progresses? Stay tuned for an update during the second week of December!

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.

1Source: The NPD Group/Retail Tracking Service, apparel, athletic footwear, beauty, Blu-ray/DVD, office supplies, small appliances, technology, toys, video games.
2Source: The NPD Group/Annual Holiday Study
3Source: The NPD Group/ U.S. Consumer Tracking Service (Athletic Footwear, Apparel, Accessories, Toys, Video Games), Retail Tracking Service (Office Supplies, Beauty), Checkout (Housewares, Small Appliances, Technology - YTD September 2020
4Source: The NPD Group/Checkout
*Seasonal Category Tracking is based on a subset of industries available weekly at a category level.

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Janine Marshall
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