Powered by a strong holiday shopping period, consumer spending in the fourth quarter of 2021 was up 15 percent from the same time in 2020, with a 6% increase in unit sales. The fourth quarter of 2021 also contributed 9% revenue growth and 1% unit growth over the prior year, according The NPD Group.

“Consumers’ grab-it-when-you-see-it mentality, especially related to pandemic-driven needs has not gone away — in fact, it has been bolstered by the impact of the omicron variant,” says Marshal Cohen, chief retail industry advisor for NPD. “It is spending in the here and now that lifted retail sales throughout 2021, offsetting challenges related to inventories, and higher average selling prices during the holiday shopping season.”

Inventory concerns drove consumers to embark on holiday shopping earlier, but neither early shopping nor supply issues impeded late-season shopping.

“The past year demonstrates the shifts that the retail landscape continues to undergo, and the 2021 holiday shopping season provided lessons that will be critical to planning for the year ahead,” Cohen says. “The spending that occurred over the past 22 months, combined with the current pricing dynamics, not only shift what and how consumers buy, but also the inevitable fatigue puts added pressure on the ability to sustain growth, as stimulus cashflow slows, experiential spending returns, and general demand recedes.”