Retail Sales up 18.3% in November

Intelligent Economics > Analysis > Retail Sales up 18.3% in November

Retail sales in Puerto Rico during the month of November 2021 reached a total of $3.096 billion. Compared to November 2020, sales increased by $478 million (18.3%), while compared to November 2019, total retail sales increased by $421 million (15.7%).

The three retail categories with the largest increases in sales relative to 2020 were department stores ($97 million, 10.7%), new and used motor vehicles ($93 million, 29.7%), and supermarkets ($51 million, 14.6%). The only category with a decrease in sales relative to November 2020 was gardening and patio equipment stores, whose sales decreased by $199,081 (3.3%).

Compared to November 2019, the categories with the largest increases in sales were supermarkets ($124 million, 44.3%) and department stores ($113 million, 12.7%). The categories with the largest decreases in sales were new and used motor vehicles ($70 million, 14.7%) and gas stations and convenience stores ($11 million, 7.4%).

Sales for the year to date reached a total of $33.5 billion in the month of November 2021. Compared to November 2020, retail sales have increased by $6.2 billion (23.1%). Compared to November 2019, retail sales increased by $5.7 billion (20.8%). All categories have had higher sales in 2021 than in 2020, with the largest increases being in department stores (20.3%) and new and used motor vehicle sales (35.2%). Compared to 2019, only two categories have had lower sales: gardening and patio equipment stores (-18.7%) and new and used motor vehicle sales (10.9%).

A major concern regarding retail sales has been the effect of inflation, particularly when it comes to food items. Some food items have increased by more than 10% since the beginning of the COVID pandemic.

Inflation-adjusted Sales (Jan-Nov) (millions)2019202020212020-2021 Change
Restaurants$      1,315$         1,086$      1,38928.0%
Supermarkets$      2,410$         3,064$      3,3077.9%
Total$     23,188$       23,065$     27,72620.2%

Inflation adjusted supermarket sales for January-November 2021 reached a total of $3.3 billion, this is an increase of 7.93% compared to 2020. This is a 37.3% increase compared to 2019. Aside from spending habits having changed during the pandemic alongside restrictions for restaurants, the main factor behind this large increase has been the massive increase in SNAP funds. 10.7% of all households in the US receive SNAP benefits. In Puerto Rico, this figure climbs to 43.2% of all households.

Overall, November has shown a very strong performance for retail on the island. December, however, could prove to be different. The increase in COVID cases could lead to a weak finish to the year. This increase in cases led to a tightening of COVID-related restrictions on the island. Google Mobility data also reflects decrease mobility in Puerto Rico, particularly amongst retail spaces. This could lead to this recovery stalling in the beginning of 2022.

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