US retail sales have grown steadily over the past decade. In 2012, total US retail sales amounted to $4.3 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 52.6 percent increase in less than a decade. 

That’s not all. Total US retail sales in 2021 also marked an 18 percent year-over-year increase. Overall sales grew by nearly $1 trillion from 2020. It’s also the highest growth rate by a huge margin. In comparison, the second-fastest increase of the previous decade came in 2011, when total retail sales grew 7.5 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 1.9 percent. 

The latest data also shows that US retail sales hit $1.8 trillion in the second quarter of 2022. This marks a 1.9 percent increase from the previous quarter and a 7.2 percent annual increase. 

Start selling online now with Shopify

Start your free trial

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 1.6 percent. It continued to fall by 4.2 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 $376 billion. This was a 13 percent fall from the previous month and a 15.9 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, retail sales growth over the past few quarters shows that US consumer sentiment is on the rebound. 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, retail sales growth is to be expected. Recent data shows that private consumption in the US is projected to increase by 2.8 percent in 2022 and 1.4 percent in 2023.

Start selling online now with Shopify

Start your free trial

Want to Learn More?