Surveys

Holiday Retail Sales Rose Nearly 4%, NRF Calculations Show

SurveysJan 22, 2024

Holiday Retail Sales Rose Nearly 4%, NRF Calculations Show

Retail sales also were up about 4 percent for the full year.

Stock image of hand holding holiday shopping bags
Retail sales, excluding sales at gas stations, restaurants, and car dealerships, were up 3.8 percent year-over-year during the 2023 holiday season and rose 3.6 percent for the full year, the NRF said last week.
Washington, D.C.—Core retail sales grew nearly 4 percent in the months of November and December to $964.4 billion, according to U.S. Census Bureau data compiled by the National Retail Federation. 

The results were line with the NRF’s forecast for the holiday season, with consumers spending despite the fact that interest rates and the cost of certain goods and services remain high.  

Online and other non-store sales, which are included in the sales total, rose 8 percent to $276.8 billion, also in line with the NRF’s holiday forecast. 

All but two retail categories tracked by the NRF showed year-over-year sales growth during the 2023 holiday season. 

Electronics/appliance stores and health/personal care stores led the way. Both recorded growth of 9 percent. 

Furniture and home furnishing stores turned in the worst performance, perhaps due to the slowdown in the housing market, with sales dropping 6 percent year-over-year.  

Sales declined 4 percent for building materials and garden supply stores.  
 
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For the full year, retail sales also were up about 4 percent to $5.13 trillion, at the low end of the NRF’s full-year forecast

“Consumer spending was remarkably resilient throughout 2023 and finished the year with a solid pace for the holiday season,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said.  

“Although inflation has been the biggest concern for households, the price of goods eased notably and was helped by a healthy labor market, underscoring a successful holiday season for retailers.” 


The 2023 holiday sales results top the previous record of $929.5 billion spent during the 2022 holiday season.  

Though retail sales growth has slowed in comparison with the pandemic years, when consumers had extra money due to government stimulus and little else to spend their money on, it is consistent with the average growth rate of 3.6 percent recorded from 2010-2019, the NRF noted.  

NRF’s calculation of retail sales is based on U.S. Census data but excludes sales at automobile dealers, gas stations, and restaurants.  

It defines the holiday season as Nov. 1-Dec. 31. The holiday sales total is not adjusted for inflation.  

Michelle Graffis the editor-in-chief at National Jeweler, directing the publication’s coverage both online and in print.

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