Though still below pre-pandemic levels, in-person retail traffic for the Saturday before Christmas was up 19.4% this year compared to 2020 as customers scrambled to grab last-minute gifts, according to a report from data firm Sensormatic Solutions.
Retail activity has increased throughout 2021, although shopping at U.S. brick-and-mortar stores on the last Saturday before Christmas, or “Super Saturday,” was still 26.3% below 2019 levels, Sensormatic reported.
This year’s Super Saturday, falling on December 18, was an opportunity for consumers to find last-minute Christmas gifts while other purchases may be held up due to supply chain issues, said Sensormatic senior manager of retail consulting Peter McCall.
Online shoppers may continue to see delays as Christmas approaches, Cathy Morrow Roberson, president of consultancy group Logistics Trends & Insights, told Reuters.
For the past five years, Super Saturday has typically been the country’s second-busiest shopping day after Black Friday, McCall said. Super Saturday generates billions in sales, and disruptions to shopping on this crucial day can set retailers’ bottom lines askew for the entire year, ABC News reported. In 2019, Super Saturday became the biggest day in U.S. retail history with $34.4 billion in sales, topping that year’s Black Friday by 10%, Bloomberg reported.
The highly transmissible omicron variant of the coronavirus put Super Saturday shopping sprees at extra risk of spreading the virus. “It’s like the new variant is the new normal—the environment has gotten a little used to that,” Chicago-area toy store owner Katherine Nguyen told Reuters.
Black Friday shopping this year was up 34.2% from 2020 and down 21.7% from 2019, Sensormatic found.