‘Revenge Shopping’ Predicted to Cause Holiday Retail Sales to Rebound

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Holiday shopping is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels this year, with consumers anticipated to spend 25.4 percent more than they did in 2020, according to JLL’s 2021 holiday survey. 

On average, consumers should spend $870 in total holiday purchases, compared with $694 they spent in 2020, the survey found. These numbers nearly meet 2019’s average $874 spending per shopper. 

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“Revenge” shopping — when customers compensate for lost time with greater spending — is partially responsible for these results, with shopping activity predicted to increase as consumers make up for opportunities taken by the pandemic. After more than a year of online shopping, consumers have expressed a revived interest in returning to physical stores. The demand spurred by the in-person hiatus is predicted to increase foot traffic throughout stores — and see customers with higher budgets. 

JLL found that more than half of surveyed shoppers — 58 percent — are hoping to find gifts in person, whereas 34 percent will stay online. Customers relying on curbside pickup services comprise the smallest pool, at 22.6 percent.

“Consumers are eager to return to in-person shopping this holiday season — immersing themselves in the holiday spirit [and] dining after a long day of shopping,” Greg Maloney, president of retail at JLL, said in a statement. “It’s a full holiday experience that many shoppers look forward to. And, it’s refreshing to see that in-person dining and enclosed malls are at the top of consumers’ destination lists.”

The demand for retail spaces is also en route to reaching pre-pandemic levels. While warehouse distribution centers have surged, so have brick-and-mortar shops; JLL’s second-quarter retail survey found that 41,000 retail leases were signed in the United States within the first half of the year, amounting to 121 million square feet. Meanwhile, second-quarter net absorption was the highest it’s been since 2018, equating to 20.1 million square feet. 

Like the trends in holiday shopping, consumer spending is similarly projected to grow by 8.8 percent — the highest surge since World War II. Malls, which have taken a hit over the past year, are benefitting from this trend, despite the ongoing rise of e-commerce. July saw mall visits across the country exceed 2019 numbers.

Anna Staropoli can be reached at astaropoli@commercialobserver.com