The release of the March retail sales report by the US Department of Commerce is offering clues to our post-pandemic shopping trends. March was a month benefiting from the release of stimulus checks as well as increasing vaccination rates, providing both the funds and the motivation to spend, including on things we collectively hadn’t been buying much of over the past year.
Sporting goods stores had the largest gain in March, jumping 23.5% from February, proving that outdoor and exercise gear remains popular. However, clothing stores saw a large gain as well, rising 18.3% over February levels and a dramatic recovery from March 2020 which indicated the start of the pandemic in the US and the steep decline of apparel shopping. Particular areas of interest include swimwear and resort wear. Not only are people planning for long delayed vacations, but summer is coming. Additionally, resort wear offers a colorful and fun yet breezy and still comfortable alternative to our pandemic sweats and pajamas. Shoes are also seeing strong sales. All that pandemic walking has us burning through trainers/tennies like crazy. However, with all the planning for a more in-person world, summer sandals and comfortable slides are seeing gains too.
Spending at gas stations and at food services and drinking places (up 10.9% and 13.4% over February 2021 levels, respectively) are additional indications that many Americans are resuming travel, commuting, and visits to restaurants and bars.
April retail sales will give us even more hints of what post-pandemic spending will look like in the near term as more of the US population becomes fully vaccinated.
For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research and our sister publisher Packaged Facts’ research on the pet, food & beverage, and payment cards industries. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.