Super Saturday — always the last Saturday before Christmas — wasn’t as wild and crazy as in years’ past, but business at stores was healthy enough to support industry-wide bullish sales forecasts for the holiday season.
Customer Growth Partners reported Monday that Super Saturday generated a record $38.6 billion in sales, up 12 percent from the $34.4 billion in 2019, and up from 2020’s $32.7 billion.
“Power and strip centers, neighborhood centers, lifestyle centers and outlet malls were all quite strong,” said Craig Johnson, president and founder of Customer Growth Partners research and consulting firm. “Regional malls were generally good.”
Business on Super Saturday was further supported by many retailers setting Dec. 18 as the cutoff date for receiving orders in time for Christmas, said Johnson.
Sensormatic Solutions, which tracks traffic at brick-and-mortar stores as part of its technology services for retailers, reported that shopper traffic in stores in the U.S. on Super Saturday fell 26.3 percent compared to the same day in 2019.
Compared to COVID-impaired 2020, shopper traffic on Super Saturday this year increased 19.4 percent, according to traffic data from the Sensormatic IQ platform.
“As we expected, Super Saturday remains a big part of consumers’ holiday shopping plans to grab last-minute items with supply chain issues delaying the arrival of online orders in time for holiday celebrations,” Peter McCall, senior manager of retail consulting, Sensormatic Solutions, said Monday, when the company released its Super Saturday findings. ”For the last five years, Super Saturday is the second busiest shopping day in the U.S., falling only behind Black Friday,” said McCall, though Johnson indicated this year Black Friday was bigger than Super Saturday
Key gift shopping days, including Super Saturday, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, would have been bigger in terms of the sales volume this year were it not for retailers starting holiday campaigns weeks earlier to better manage their stores and e-commerce amid the pandemic, inventory shortages, labor shortages and the increased consumer demand.
Super Saturday this year could have been impacted by the recent spread of the omicron COVID-19 variant, but strong consumer demand and inflation kept the sales tally high.
On Super Saturday, “Apparel had its best showing in years. It’s continued up since earlier in the year,” Johnson said. He also cited consumer electronics, video games and toys as strong categories, with stockouts noticed in toy sections at Target, Walmart and Amazon, particularly in Barbie products, Sony Playstation and Lego, Johnson said, adding that thin inventory levels were seen in footwear, whether shoes, flats or boots.
Johnson predicts a strong last-minute rush this week up until Christmas, based on last year’s last-minute rush and many people still working from home and likely to take extended lunch hours to complete their gift lists.
Last week, the National Retail Federation projected that more than 148 million people in the U.S. would shop in stores or online on Super Saturday, compared to 150 million in 2020.
NRF president and chief executive officer Matthew Shay said, “We expect demand will remain strong through December, even though consumers started holiday shopping earlier than ever this year. Despite the rise of the omicron variant, increased vaccination rates combined with retailers’ ongoing safety protocols and procedures have resulted in consumers who feel they can continue to shop safely and conveniently. We believe that holiday sales this year could grow as much as 11.5 percent over 2020.” Earlier this year, NRF projected holiday 2021 sales increasing between 8.5 percent and 10.5 percent.
Added NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz: “Consumers’ financial condition remains healthy and neither stubborn inflation nor COVID-19 appear to have derailed holiday spending despite both being top of mind. Recent labor market progress has helped propel incredibly strong demand, and most shoppers have the income and savings to absorb higher prices driven by the pandemic and supply chain disruptions. While seasonally adjusted numbers may make the results look modest, seasonal patterns have been significantly disrupted by the pandemic and unadjusted data shows November’s sales as calculated by NRF were actually the highest on record.”
The U.S. Census Bureau has reported that overall retail sales in November were up 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted from October and up 18.2 percent year-over-year. That compares with increases of 1.8 percent month-over-month and 16.3 percent year-over-year in October. Despite occasional month-over-month declines, sales have grown year-over-year every month since June 2020, according to Census data.