US retail sales have grown steadily over the past decade. In 2011, total US retail sales amounted to $4.1 trillion. Fast forward to 2021, and that number has grown to $6.6 trillion—the highest US retail sales recorded in a calendar year so far. This is a whopping 60.6 percent increase over nine years. 

That’s not all. Total US retail sales in 2021 also marked an 18.07 percent year-over-year increase. Overall sales grew by over $1 trillion from 2020. It’s also the highest growth rate by a huge margin. In comparison, the second-fastest increase came in 2011, when total retail sales grew 7.48 percent year-over-year. 

In contrast, the smallest year-over-year increase of the past decade came in 2015 when US retail sales grew by a relatively meager 1.89 percent. 

US Retail Sales During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Even though US retail sales have been growing steadily over the past decade, there was a slowdown to this growth in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic in comparison to previous years. 

For instance, total retail sales in the first quarter of 2020 fell by 1.2 percent. It continued to fall by four percent in the second quarter, which was the biggest dip since the financial crisis in 2008. 

The slowdown was most evident in the US retail sales statistics from April 2020, where sales fell to $380 billion. This was a 12.5 percent fall from the previous month and a 15.3 percent year-over-year decrease.

According to official data, clothing stores were the hardest hit as their April sales figures plummeted 86.4 percent year-over-year. Furniture store sales also fell drastically by 58.7 percent from April 2019.

However, US consumer sentiment has since been on the rebound. The last quarter of 2021 saw rising retail sales, increasing 15.2 percent year-over-year and 2.5 percent from the previous quarter. 

Analysts credit 2021’s increase in retail sales to consumers’ growth in savings and wealth and say the biggest driver behind the increase has come from motor vehicle sales.

Looking forward, we can expect continued growth in sales figures. Recent data shows that private consumption in the US is projected to increase by 3.8 percent in 2022, and a further 2.5 percent in 2023.

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