Total retail sales grew more than expected during the pandemic year of 2020, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF), paced by an explosion in online sales that the trade group expects to continue in 2021.
At a press conference in Washington, D.C., NRF President Matthew Shay predicted total U.S. retail sales will grow from $4.06 trillion in 2020 to as much as $4.4 trillion this year, with online sales expected to reach nearly $1.2 trillion—a 24 percent year-over-year increase. In the pandemic year, online sales grew nearly 22 percent to $969.4 billion.
“Despite the continuing health and economic challenges Covid-19 presents, we are very optimistic that healthy consumer fundamentals, pent-up demand and widespread distribution of the vaccine will generate increased economic growth, retail sales and consumer spending,” Shay said. “From the outset of the pandemic, retailers have gone above and beyond even the most conservative safety guidelines to protect and serve their associates and consumers alike. Retailers are increasingly engaged in working with federal, state and local health officials to distribute and administer the vaccine. This partnership has been key to our economic health throughout the pandemic and will continue this year.”