By Alan Wolf, YSN
Shoppers were still making up for lost time last month, as did dealers for lost sales.
Twelve months after the first wave of COVID washed over America, consumers compensated for the prior year’s quarantines and lockdowns with unrelenting demand for appliances, furniture and electronics.
According to the latest monthly retail sales figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, sell-through at appliance and electronic stores soared more than 90 percent last month over May 2020 to $7.5 billion, while furniture and home furnishings stores saw their May sales rise 65 percent year-over-year, to $12.1 billion.
The pace lessened slightly from April’s gangbuster tallies with month-over-month declines in the low single digits, due largely to supply-chain constraints. Yet May sales still reached near-record levels, once again demonstrating consumers’ ability and willingness to spend.
“Month-over-month comparisons and percentages of change simply don’t tell the story,” observed Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for the National Retail Federation (NRF), the world’s largest retail trade association. “We are at a highly elevated level of spending … [and] demand has continued to be strong even as the concentrated impact from government stimulus has faded.”
To Kleinhenz, the May numbers show that despite labor shortages, supply chain bottlenecks, and potential tax increases and over-regulation, households remain healthy. “There is still pent-up demand for retail goods, and consumers are likely to remain on a growth path into the summer,” he said.
The NRF’s confidence in continued consumer spending is reflected in its revised forecast for total 2021 retail sales, which last week was raised to upwards of 13.5 percent in growth and a total of $4.4 trillion for the year, excluding auto dealers gas stations and restaurants.