Retail sales were up nearly 10% in March as more Americans received their stimulus checks and their vaccinations. As the nation emerges from a time in which there was nowhere to go and nothing to buy for, experts are predicting a spending spree on the part of consumers ready for life post-pandemic. According to JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, consumers now have $2 trillion more in their checking accounts than they did before the pandemic began. So what will they be spending it on?
In the short term, it appears some categories that experienced a boom during the pandemic will continue to outperform. Exercise and outdoor gear remain popular; sporting goods stores saw the largest gain in March. But apparel, which suffered as a category in every area that didn't involve sweatpants, is having a comeback. So are shaving kits, champagne, and swimwear. Consumers are beginning to plan for a future that features trips to restaurants and beaches and parties, and they are spending accordingly.
Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for market researcher NPD Group, said the kinds of merchandise that people buy illustrates “how we’re going to spend in the short term, as we navigate our way out of this whole mess.”