U.S. retail sales in the holiday season from November 1 through December 24 grew 8.5% over 2020 sales, with the spread between online and in-store growth the smallest it’s been in years, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse figures.  In-store sales were up 8.1% and e-commerce sales up 11% for the period.

The comparison to 2019, the last pre-pandemic year, showed the impact of lockdowns in 2020.  Total sales were 10.7% in 2021 compared to 2019, with in-store sales up 2.4% and e-commerce sales up 61.4%.  That big jump e-commerce share in 2020 helped bring the channel to 20.9% of all retail sales in the 2021 holiday season.

Expectations for the season were high in both the game and comic categories among retailers we interviewed in November, with trends running above retail as a whole (see "Hobby Stores’ Strong Outlook for Holiday Sales").