December CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor Numbers Show Retailers Had Strong Holiday Season 


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Washington — Retail sales continued to grow in December, completing a strong holiday shopping season, according to CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor data released by the National Retail Federation.

“December’s numbers combined with November’s results show retailers had a very successful two-month holiday season,” says NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Clearly, retailers got it right this holiday season, providing consumers with what they wanted, options on when and where to make their purchases and with prices customers were comfortable paying. These advance insights from the CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor give everyone who follows the retail industry a jumpstart on government data that won’t come out for another week.”

Total retail sales, excluding automobiles and gasoline, were up 0.44 percent seasonally adjusted month over month and up 3.07 percent unadjusted year over year in December, according to the Retail Monitor. That compared with increases of 0.77 percent month over month and 4.24 percent year over year in November.

The Retail Monitor calculation of core retail sales — excluding restaurants in addition to autos and gas — showed increases of 0.19 percent month over month and 2.4 percent year over year in December. That compared with increases of 0.73 percent month over month and 4.17 percent year over year in November.

Total retail sales for all of 2023 were up 5.32 percent over 2022 and core retail sales were up 4.46 percent.

The results follow NRF’s forecast that holiday retail sales from November 1 through December 31 — excluding autos, gas and restaurants — would increase between 3 percent and 4 percent over 2022 to a record of between $957.3 billion and $966.6 billion. The forecast is based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, and final results will be known when the Census Bureau releases December’s numbers.

This is the third month that the Retail Monitor, which was launched in November, has provided data on monthly retail sales. It uses actual, anonymized credit and debit card purchase data compiled by Affinity and does not need to be revised monthly or annually.

December sales were up in six out of nine retail categories on a yearly basis, led by online sales, health and personal care stores and clothing and accessory stores, and up in five categories on a monthly basis. Specifics from key sectors include:

  • Online and other non-store sales were up 2.59 percent month over month seasonally adjusted and up 31.17 percent year over year unadjusted.
  • Health and personal care stores were up 0.17 percent month over month seasonally adjusted and up 5.58 percent year over year unadjusted.
  • Clothing and accessories stores were down 0.44 percent month over month but up 4.28 percent year over year unadjusted.
  • Grocery and beverage stores were up 0.84 percent month over month and up 2.39 percent year over year unadjusted.
  • Sporting goods, hobby, music and book stores were up 0.62 percent month over month seasonally adjusted and up 2.25 percent year over year unadjusted.
  • General merchandise stores were up 0.86 percent month over month seasonally adjusted and up 0.84 percent year over year unadjusted.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were down 3.22 percent month over month seasonally adjusted and down 6.3 percent year over year unadjusted.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 0.9 percent month over month seasonally adjusted and down 3.76 percent year over year unadjusted.
  • Building and garden supply stores were down 1.52 percent month over month and down 10.17 percent year over year unadjusted.