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People wait in line to do last-minute holiday shopping in New York City on Dec. 24. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Holiday sales rose by 10.7% compared to the pre-pandemic 2019 holiday period, the fastest increase in 17 years, according to the Associated Press.

Why it matters: U.S. retail sales had initially struggled against the backdrop of rising prices, supply chain issues and labor shortages, as businesses emerged from the economic damage incurred at the height of the pandemic.

  • The dramatic sales increase also comes as the newly discovered Omicron variant has spread rapidly throughout the country, fueling fears that the strain may soon upend the new normal.
  • Clothing and jewelry sales rose by more than 30%, according to AP. Online sales were also up 61% from 2019.

The backdrop: The National Retail Foundation predicted in October that holiday sales during November and December would grow between 8.5% and 10.5% over 2020, compared with an 8.2% growth during those same months in 2020.

  • The retail trade group is slated to release a broader picture of sales performances next month, according to the wire service.

Go deeper

Hope King, author of Closer
Jan 14, 2022 - Economy & Business

Record level consumer demand drops as high prices surge

Data: FRED; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

Record levels of consumer demand are petering out as high prices cut into wages and add to household worries.

Why it matters: Shoppers will hold off on buying if goods get too expensive — a trend that if big enough could slow down economic growth.

Corporate America's incredibly profitable pandemic

Expand chart
Data: S&P Dow Jones Indices; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

Companies are about to blast out a blizzard of quarterly profit and sales numbers over the next few weeks, as the carnival of Q4 corporate results kicks off.

Driving the news: Large banks will open the floodgates, issuing reports early Friday that mark the unofficial start of earnings season on Wall Street.

Box office sales bounce back in 2021, but trail 2019 numbers

Photo: Noam Galai/WireImage

Box offices in the U.S. earned $4.5 billion during 2021, a 101% increase from 2020 sales but still nearly 60% less than what they made in 2019, CNN reports citing Comscore.

The big picture: Analysts don't expect the box office to recover meaningfully until 2022 despite blockbuster hits like "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" and "Spider-Man: No Way Home."