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US consumers continue to spend on home, lifestyle, and retail in 2021

By Tess Stenzel


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During the first six weeks of 2021, and aided by the government economic stimulus payments, US consumers continued to spend on categories that make their stay-at-home lifestyle more comfortable, according to a report from market research company NPD Group.

To date, every week in 2021 has posted double-digit growth in terms of discretionary retail spending in the general merchandise categories such as fashion, home appliances, tech, sports equipment, and toys.

Online sales of non-essential general merchandise grew 34 percent in 2020. Small appliances, video games, houseware, consumer electronics, and toys were the industries with the strongest overall growth for the year. They led the e-commerce charge with online gains greater than 50 percent each.

Fashion, which has been struggling amid the pandemic, also saw growth by more than 30 percent in e-commerce compared to the same time last year.

“The Covid-19 pandemic forced consumers to adapt, and they did so quickly, shifting their discretionary spending from travel and other experiences towards the here and now of a new homebound lifestyle,” said Marshal Cohen, NPD’s chief industry advisor of retail, in a press release.

“Though there were some struggles to keep pace and align retail marketing and merchandising, this rapid shift in consumer buying behavior propelled several industries, like consumer technology and housewares forward, and digital at the forefront.”

Houseware, consumer electronics, and small appliances realized double-digit year-over-year dollar gains in January and the first week of February stated NPD.

“The robust nature of this continued spending, albeit helped by the stimulus payments, is impressive in that the consumer demand and desire for products to enhance their lives at home are clearly there,” added Cohen.

“But with many products being one-and-done purchases by nature, future retail momentum will require product and marketing innovation that creates new consumer intrigue.”

photo: via Pexel