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Back-to-School U.S. Retail Sales Expected to Grow 5.5% Over 2020, Says Mastercard SpendingPulse

Students may just be beginning summer vacations, but a projected return to classrooms as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes should boost back-to-school sales, predicts Mastercard. The company’s SpendingPulse report expects U.S. retail sales to grow 5.5% excluding automotive and gas during the July 15 through September 6 back-to-school period compared to 2020. Compared to 2019, sales are expected to grow 6.7%.

“Back to school has always been a prime season for retailers. This year, the broader reopening brings an exciting wave of optimism as children prepare for another school year, and the grown-ups in their lives approach a similar ‘return to office’ scenario,” said Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and Chairman of Saks Incorporated. “This back-to-school season will be defined by choice as online sales remain robust, brick and mortar browsing regains momentum and strong promotions help retailers compete for shoppers’ wallets.”

As the broader U.S. reopening occurs and consumers return to brick and mortar, the company anticipates e-commerce sales will ease slightly compared to last year (-6.6%) but will remain up a significant amount (+53.2%) when compared to 2019. Apparel sales are anticipated to rise 78.2% over 2020, and 11.3% over 2019. Electronics sales will rise 13% year-over-year and 9.6% over 2019. Even department stores will see a boost, with sales increasing 25.3% over 2020 and 9.5% over 2019 levels.

Mastercard SpendingPulse reports on national retail sales across all payment types in select markets around the world. The findings are based on aggregate sales activity in the Mastercard payments network, coupled with survey-based estimates for certain other payment forms, such as cash and check.





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