NRF’s Holiday Retail Sales Fall in Line With Predictions

NRF’s Holiday Retail Sales Fall in Line With Predictions

Christian Chensvold, Associate Editor | Friday, January 19, 2024

Whether or not you have champagne on New Year’s Eve, there was reason to celebrate the close of 2023, according to retail-sales figures released today by the National Retail Federation.

According to the NRF, which defines the holiday season as Nov. 1–Dec. 31, core retail sales (not including expenditures on automobiles and restaurants) during the 2023 holiday season grew 3.8 percent over 2022 to a record $964.4 billion, despite continued inflation and high interest rates.

Holiday sales at clothing and accessory stores were up 3 percent, while sales for the full year grew 3.6 percent over 2022 to a record $5.13 trillion.

“Consumer spending was remarkably resilient throughout 2023 and finished the year with a solid pace for the holiday season,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “Even though 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. Despite a slower growth rate compared with the past three years, when trillions of dollars of stimulus led to unprecedented rates of retail spending during the pandemic, 2023’s holiday spending was consistent with the average annual holiday increase of 3.6 percent from 2010 to 2019.

The holiday total, not adjusted for inflation, includes online and other non-store sales, which were up 8.2 percent at $276.8 billion, up from $255.8 billion in 2022.

The $5.13 trillion full-year total is in line with the NRF’s most recent expectation that 2023 annual retail sales would increase about or just below 4 percent over 2022, reflecting a slowdown in the rate of growth throughout the year. Full-year sales during 2022 totaled $4.95 trillion.

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