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.

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