After more than a year of battling the challenges of COVID-19, retail looked like it had turned the corner. Shopper enthusiasm had returned, and consumers were excited to shop in stores again. July retail trade sales were up 13.3% over the same period last year and 20.2% higher than in 2019. Food services and drinking establishments saw an increase of 38.4% versus 2020 and 10% versus 2019. Consumer spending on services was up nearly 11% YOY; spending on durable goods was up 20.6%. There has been reason for optimism—but a rise in COVID cases across the country and other challenges are likely to present significant headwinds for retailers and consumer brands as we enter the holiday sales season.

Read the full paper by Keith Jelinek, Rick Maicki, Darren Morrison, and Frank Jones.