NRF Reports Moderate 2022 Holiday Sales

U.S. retailers saw just 5.3% growth over the 2021 season.
Jane Neal

January 19, 2023

Holiday shoppers.
Holiday shoppers. Dann Tardif/Getty Images


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reported last week, Mastercard SpendingPulse declared immediately after the holiday season that U.S. holiday retail sales (excluding automotive) increased 7.6% year-over-year. This week, the National Retail Federation (NRF) holiday sales report showed less cheery results.  

The NRF cited retail sales for November and December grew 5.3% over 2021 to $936.3 billion, falling short of its forecast amid continuing inflation and high interest rates.  

The 2022 growth compares with 4.9% average holiday sales growth over the previous 10 years.

In November

, the NRF had predicted that holiday retail sales during November and December would grow between 6% and 8% over 2021 to between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion.

The NPD, on the other hand, reported total unit sales of U.S. discretionary general merchandise in 2022 were 7% lower than the prior year, and sales revenue fell 2%. However, NPD reported December retail sales reached parity with December 2021, which could be seen as a

strong finish, given the demand declines that occurred throughout most of the year. 

“While holiday season sales usually increase compared to the prior year, the holidays could have and should have been worse this year,” says Marshal Cohen, chief retail industry advisor, NPD. “Double-digit increases in food prices, weather disruptions, early promotions, little depth in discounts and the absence of innovative products made for a long list of shopping hurdles contributing to the muted holiday and annual retail results.” 

 “The last two years of retail sales have been unprecedented, and no one ever thought it was sustainable,” says Matthew Shay, president and chief executive officer, NRF. “Nonetheless, we closed out 2022 with impressive annual retail sales and a respectable holiday season despite historic levels of inflation and interest rate hikes to cool the economy.”

“We knew it could be touch-and-go for final holiday sales given early shopping in October that likely pulled some sales forward plus price pressures and cold, stormy weather,” says Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist, NRF. “The pace of spending was choppy, and consumers may have pulled back more than we had hoped, but these numbers show that they navigated a challenging, inflation-driven environment reasonably well. The bottom line is that consumers are still engaged and shopping despite everything happening around them.” 


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