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NPD: September sales reveal significant retail shifts

NPD: September sales reveal significant retail shifts


The lull in discretionary spending that typically occurs in September was largely missing this year.

U.S. sales of discretionary general merchandise grew 4% in September 2021 when compared to September 2020, and 18% when compared to September 2019, according to the latest NPD data from the Retail Early Indicator Report. All discretionary general merchandise industries experienced dollar growth in September 2021 when compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

"September did indeed prove to be a seismic shift in retail,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor at The NPD Group. “With big growth rates at retail slowing but still growing, and some industries even losing growth momentum from both 2020 and 2019.  Back-to-school and back-to-college gained later traction at the same time as supply chain challenges hit stores, making this September a month to learn from and look for signs of things to come in 2022.”

Industries most affected by the pandemic such as fashion accessories, beauty, apparel and footwear continue to rebound from 2020 losses, but have the slowest gains over 2019 when compared to other industries. Some industries that gained the most traction during the pandemic, including consumer technology, small appliances and housewares continue to exceed pre-pandemic levels by double digits, but struggle to measure up against 2020 results.

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