U.S. consumers are spending on in-person experiences, with the total reaching 91% of the 2019 level at the end of 2021. But there has not been a comparable boost in the retail merchandise spend, according to statistics released Tuesday by the NPD Group.
Retail spending grew by 19% over 2019 levels last year, but retail unit sales fell in nine of the first ten weeks of 2022 YoY. Yet revenue rose by over 5% in four of those weeks.
NPD adds that accessories, beauty, apparel and other categories have benefited from the experiential growth.
But sales of items that were popular during the pandemic have held steady. These include toys, small appliances, housewares, and technology.
“There is a cautious optimism in the air, as consumers embrace some newfound freedom from restrictions while not yet letting go of their pandemic ways,” said Marshal Cohen, chief retail industry advisor for NPD.
Cohen added that if the pandemic’s trajectory continues moving toward an endemic status, “people are likely to begin spending very differently.”
But Cohen warned that “political unrest, economic challenges, and consumers' financial well-being can all create substantial distraction and retail disturbances.”