U.S. Consumers Continue to Spend on Their Stay-At-Home Lifestyle in 2021

Aided by the economic stimulus payments and with the pandemic still in full swing, consumers continued to spend on categories that make their life at home more comfortable in the first six weeks of 2021, reports The NPD Group.

Consumer spending on general merchandise categories, like housewares, consumer electronic, and small appliances, realized double-digit year-over-year dollar gains in January and the first week of February.

Throughout the pandemic, consumers purchased products that make staying at home easier and more palatable. Spending at retail on these and other types of categories, like sports equipment, reached $706 billion in 2020, which was a 1% increase over 2019.

Online dollar sales of discretionary general merchandise grew 34% in 2020. Small appliances, video games, housewares, consumer electronics, and toys were the industries with the strongest overall growth for the year and led the e-commerce charge with online gains greater than 50% each.

So far, every week in 2021 has posted double-digit growth in terms of discretionary retail spending in the  general merchandise categories NPD tracks— a trend that has continued into early February. In the week ending February 6, 2021, discretionary retail dollar sales increased +13% versus the same week last year, NPD’s retail early indicator data shows.3 Even some industries that have struggled due to COVID-19’s impact, like fashion, are now showing signs of improvement.