Core retail sales in the US increased 3.8% to $964.4bn during the 2023 holiday season, according to US Census Bureau data compiled by the National Retail Federation (NRF).  

The 2023 holiday sales not only surpassed the prior record of $929.5bn set in 2022 but also fell within the NRF’s predicted growth range of 3% to 4%, despite ongoing inflation and high interest rates. 

Sales for the full year also saw a significant rise, with a 3.6% increase over 2022 amounting to a record $5.13tn.  

During November and December 2023, the growth in holiday sales was evident across several retail categories, with electronics and appliance stores, health and personal care stores and online sales leading the gains. 

On an unadjusted year-on-year (YoY) basis, sales for electronics and appliance stores saw a 9.3% increase for the two months combined. 

Online and other non-store sales grew 8.2%, and clothing and clothing accessory stores also recorded 3% sales growth during the period. 

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Sales for general merchandise stores and grocery and beverage stores were up 2% and 1.1% respectively during the season. 

Building materials and garden supply stores reported a 3.9% sales decline while furniture and home furnishings stores witnessed a decline of 6.2%.  

In December, NRF-defined retail sales rose by 0.7% seasonally adjusted from November and by 3.3% unadjusted YoY. 

NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said: “Consumer spending was remarkably resilient throughout 2023 and finished the year with a solid pace for the holiday season.  

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