Early holiday shopping momentum, combined with a Thanksgiving peak that neared pre-pandemic levels, will make the weeks that follow particularly critical to watch, advised Cohen. The week after Black Friday historically has been the start of a holiday shopping lull. But the drop-off has been less dramatic in recent years.
The 16% decline in sales during the week after Black Friday 2019 was a marked improvement over the 22% drop in 2018. Then came 2020, which completely bucked the trend of post-Thanksgiving week declines. This year, there is potential for the return of a deeper overall lull.
“It’s been an eventful couple of months but there is still a lot of holiday left and, if the post-peak lull does materialize, planning and flexibility will make the difference in these final weeks,” Cohen said. “This preparation will prove even more critical when looking beyond the 2021 holiday season, as consumer demand is poised to shift yet again.”
The National Retail Federation has forecast sales growth of 8.5% to 10.5% during November and December. NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz recently said sales could go even higher.