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In-store Retail Sales Rise to Pre-Pandemic Levels, as E-Commerce Growth Slows, Reports NPD

In-store sales made up 64% of total sales in September 2021

The steady, gradual growth of e-commerce dramatically accelerated during the pandemic, elevating the amount consumers spent shopping online to almost equal the amount consumers spent in stores. Now, with brick-and-mortar stores open across the U.S., online revenue growth is slowing down. At the same time, physical store sales have increased, rising to 64% of all retail sales in September 2021, according to The NPD Group.

“Physical stores are more relevant today than they were before the pandemic,” said Marshal Cohen, chief retail industry advisor for NPD. “Consumers are no longer buying primarily out of necessity and limited to online shopping which fell short of some expectations — choice has reentered the equation and they are hungrier than ever for the experience of in-person shopping.”

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“If it is not already apparent, the 2021 holiday season will only underscore the importance of making online and physical entities interconnect, in order to optimize the consumer connection,” said Marshal Cohen, chief retail industry advisor for NPD.

During the first year of the pandemic, between April 2020 and March 2021, e-commerce year-over-year revenue growth exceeded 40% every month, but it has mostly remained under 10% since that time. In-store gains over last year entered double-digit territory, beginning in March 2021, only dipping slightly in two of the six months that followed.

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Even with the challenges presented by the pandemic, Black Friday kept its ranking as the top in-store shopping day of the holiday season last year. Black Friday also retained a top three position when it came to the season’s ecommerce activity, while Cyber Monday fell behind Amazon’s Prime Day event in October 2020 as the top online shopping day of the holidays.

“Retailers can no longer be one-dimensional sellers,” Cohen said. “If it is not already apparent, the 2021 holiday season will only underscore the importance of making online and physical entities interconnect, in order to optimize the consumer connection.”

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