NewsPinellas County


Retail holiday sales exceed pre-pandemic levels

Local stores surprised by customer spending
Posted at 4:47 PM, Dec 28, 2021

DUNEDIN, Fla. — A new national study shows retail stores and online e-merchants are ending the year strong. Mastercard SpendingPulse, which tracks online and in-store shopping, shows holiday sales were up 8.9% from last year…that’s the biggest annual gain in 17 years.

And while holiday sales are up from 2020, as expected, economists say what’s even more telling is that retail spending exceeded pre-pandemic levels with 11.2% higher sales this November 1- December 24 versus the same time in 2019, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse.

Online sales increased exponentially. They were up 60.7% from 2019 to 2021.


Retail, jewelry and electronics saw the largest increase in sales.

It’s a turnaround so amazing that it makes Joy Hillman, the owner of Mirabella Fashions in Dunedin want to cry.

“There was a time during the pandemic in 2020 where I really thought we would have to close permanently and I went on Facebook and said if you’re going to shop, then shop small,” she explained.

Her customers became lifesavers and started showing up in force to support her small shop on Main Street. Now, just one year later, Hillman’s store is on track to have their best year in business since they opened 6 years ago.

Morgan Dillingham at Dunedin’s Woof Gang Grooming and Bakery was equally surprised with how great their sales were in 2021.“We didn’t know what to think this year. Times are still tight, but I think our customers want a little bit of normalcy,” she added.

Economists say shoppers are getting more comfortable returning to stores and are continuing to shop online as well.

For the first time in a long time, retailers tell ABC Action News they are enthused about the year ahead.

“It is the best feeling going into the new year in the black. It’s like a weight lifted,” Dillingham said enthusiastically.