US retail sales have grown steadily over the past decade. In 2012, total US retail sales amounted to $4.3 trillion. Fast forward to 2022, and that number has grown to $7.1 trillion—the highest US retail sales recorded in a calendar year so far. This is a whopping 65.3% increase in just a decade. 

That’s not all. Total US retail sales in 2022 also marked an 8.2% year-over-year increase. Overall sales grew by over half a trillion dollars from 2022. It’s also the second-highest growth rate, after the 18.1% annual increase registered in 2021. In comparison, the smallest year-over-year increase of the previous decade came in 2015, when total retail sales grew by 1.9%. 

The latest data also shows that US retail sales hit $1.785 trillion in the final quarter of 2022. This marks a fractional 0.3% decrease from the previous quarter and a 5.7% annual increase. 

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US retail sales during the COVID-19 pandemic

Even though US retail sales have been growing steadily over the past decade, there was a slowdown to this growth in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic in comparison to previous years. 

For instance, total retail sales in the first quarter of 2020 fell by 1.6%. It continued to fall by 4.2% in the second quarter, which was the biggest dip since the financial crisis in 2008. 

The slowdown was most evident in the US retail sales statistics from April 2020, where sales fell to $376 billion. This was a 13% fall from the previous month and a 15.9% year-over-year decrease. 

According to official data, clothing stores were the hardest hit as their April sales figures plummeted 86.4% year-over-year. Furniture store sales also fell drastically by 58.7% from April 2019.

However, retail sales growth over the past few quarters shows that US consumer sentiment is on the rebound. Analysts credit 2021’s increase in retail sales to consumers’ growth in savings and wealth and say the biggest driver behind the increase has come from motor vehicle sales.

Looking forward, retail sales growth is to be expected. Recent data shows that private consumption in the US is projected to increase by 0.6% in 2023 and 1.3% in 2024.

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