2023 holiday sales to set a whole new dynamics

Dec 02, 2023

Every retail holiday season since the pandemic has been unique, and that will be the case again this year, National Retail Federation Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said.

“The last few holiday shopping seasons have been filled with unmatched peculiarities for consumers and retailers alike,” Kleinhenz said. In 2020, sales surged 9.1% year over year despite the challenges of COVID-19, and there was a significant move to shopping online as Americans stayed home. Sharply rising demand overcame supply chain bottlenecks for a record growth rate of 12.7% in 2021.

And holiday sales in 2022 rose 5.4% as savings built up during the pandemic provided a buffer against rising inflation and online shopping continued but more consumers returned to stores.

“This year, a whole new set of dynamics is in place,” Kleinhenz said. “The average household remains on relatively solid financial footing despite pressures from still-high inflation, stringent credit conditions and elevated interest rates.

Recent revisions to government data indicate that consumers haven’t drawn down as much of their pandemic savings as believed earlier, and savings are still providing a buffer to support spending. The overall story for this holiday season is that it looks very good.”

Kleinhenz’s comments came in the November issue of NRF’s Monthly Economic Review, which provided additional detail on the reasoning behind NRF’s holiday retail sales forecast issued last week.

NRF expects record spending during the holiday season – defined as November 1 through December 31 – and forecast retail sales to increase between 3% and 4% over 2022 to between $957.3 billion and $966.6 billion. The growth rate is consistent with the average annual increase of 3.6% from 2010 to 2019. And the projected total sales, which exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants to focus on core retail, would top the record of $929.5 billion set last year.

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