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ICSC’s 2021 Post-Holiday Survey Results

Record-Breaking Holiday Spending in 2021 as Consumers Release Pent-Up Demand

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As retail sales grew 17% year-over-year in November and December, ICSC’s 2021 Post-Holiday Survey has found that consumers spent an average of $1,011 this holiday season with 226M people spending money on holiday gifts.

“This holiday season was a record-breaking success by any metric, and the strong retail sales are a sign of momentum for 2022,” said Tom McGee, President and CEO of ICSC. “Despite sales slowing in December, numerous data points continue to suggest the economy is strong and resilient in the face of disruption, and America’s marketplaces are playing an essential part driving our entire economy forward.”

The decline in sales in December may be attributed to the longer holiday shopping season this year. ICSC’s survey found that consumers spent $736 overall on goods and $275 on services during the entire holiday period, significant increases from 2020 spending of $625 and $170 in each respective category. Shoppers spent $579 on holiday-related items in 2021, up from $457 in 2020. Fifty-percent of shoppers reported spending more than last year, while 23% spent the same and 23% spent less.

On average, those who spent more reported spending about 21% more than last year – a strong sign of resurgence for the retail industry. Shoppers noted a higher cost of holiday items (28%), an increase in the number of people for whom they bought gifts (26%), and wanting to go above and beyond for a more celebratory atmosphere (25%) as the top reasons for spending more than in 2020.

Despite the pandemic, retail sales have continued to see year-over-year growth even in the face of challenges to include supply constraints and shipping delays. Even with those issues, 64% of shoppers felt that retailers did a good job of making sure shelves were stocked and merchandise was available. Forty-five percent of shoppers noted that they started holiday shopping earlier than in the 2021 season compared to previous years. Overall, retailers and consumers successfully navigated obstacles for a memorable holiday season.

“We expect 2022 to bring continued demand for in-store shopping and experiences, while consumers will continue to take advantage of online and click-and-collect options,” said McGee. “Successful retailers will leverage all channels at their disposal to reach consumers and meet their growing needs.”


The ICSC 2021 Post-Holiday Consumer Survey was conducted online from January 3-5, 2022. The survey represents a demographically representative sample of 1,007 respondents.

Source: 2022 ICSC.

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