2021 holiday sales see boost, but not as much as businesses expected


SALISBURY, Md. – This holiday season, many travel plans were canceled because of the spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant. But, holiday sales numbers increased this year.

“COVID-19 took a bite out of consumer spending in 2020. So, a rebound was expected,” said President and CEO of the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce Bill Chambers.

Mastercard SpendingPulse keeps track of all kinds of payments, including cash, credit, and debit. It reported that holiday sales grew 8.5% from a year earlier, which is the most in 17 years. Mastercard SpendingPulse also reported 2021 holiday sales were up 10.7% percent from 2019.

Those numbers are being reflected locally, according to Chambers. He adds the boost in sales was mostly reflected in online shopping. But, Chambers says the local business community was actually hoping for an even bigger rebound.

“The Omicron variant put a damper on in-store shopping the last couple of weeks before the holidays. This trend looks like it’s going to continue, unfortunately,” he said.

Chambers says this year’s holiday sales are a bit disappointing for business owners, as the threat of inflation and the continuing spread of the Omicron variant goes on.

“I think those things are going to put a damper on the vacations, movie tickets, and those kinds of things,” he said. “But, I do think there’s a concern with retailers and restaurateurs here on the Shore, that while there was such a strong fall and winter before the holidays, that we are going to be faced with a decline in overall spending in January and February.”

Chambers says he believes Delmarva will soon see people spending more money on goods and services, rather than experiences. That could be good news for businesses. ”

I think as we go into 2022, you’re going to see consumer spending on goods and services, but not on things like vacations, manicures. I think people will be looking more at consumable goods,” said Chambers. “Businesses want to hang in there in the early months of 2022. But they’re very optimistic about a strong second quarter and beyond in 2022.”

Categories: Business, Coronavirus, Local News, Maryland, Money