As summer fades away and fall is upon us, consumer demand has continued to outweigh the pandemic, supply chain disruptions, and other factors that otherwise might impact spending. A recent report from the National Retail Federation (NRF) indicates that the increase in August retail sales and strong sales in September reflect the strength of the American consumer and the resilience of our local retailers.
“Retailers are still dealing with complex challenges with an uptick in infection rates due to the delta variant. Supply chain and workforce constraints continue to pressure our retailers, but we carry on, serving the needs of Washingtonians while keeping our communities and customers safe and healthy,” said Renée Sunde, WR President & CEO. “We are confident that the strength of our consumers will result in another strong holiday season for retailers.”
According to our national partners at NRF, the consumer continues to be rock-solid despite the macroeconomic headwinds that we have experienced this year. These include the government stimulus tapering off, elevated COVID infections, and ongoing supply chain challenges in the form of shortages of labor and goods.
The US Census Bureau indicated that overall retail sales in August were up 0.7 percent seasonally adjusted from July and up 15.1 percent year-over-year. NRF has calculated sales for the first eight months of the year, showing an increase of 15 percent over the same period in 2020. The primary categories leading to sales gains are clothing, sporting goods, and electronics.
So, what does all this mean for Washington’s retail industry? The state frequently mirror’s national statistics, and we are expecting the same this year as we launch into the holiday season. Halloween, our next big holiday, is expected to reach an all-time high of $10.14 billion nationally.
We are seeing the early arrival of goods to ensure that inventories are high, and shelves are stocked and ready for customers. According to NRF, 65 percent of Americans intend to celebrate Halloween or participate in Halloween activities this year, up from 58% last year and comparable to the 68% in 2019, pre-pandemic. Consumers are expected to shop early this year, starting in September.