CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor Shows Retailers Saw Strong December

Online holiday shopping saw significant growth in December.

Jane Neal, Content Editor

January 11, 2024

3 Min Read
Charles Gullung/Getty Images

Although the final numbers for the 2023 holidays are not yet in, retail sales saw continued growth in December, completing a strong holiday shopping season. That’s according to the CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor, powered by Affinity Solutions, 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 Matthew Shay, president, chief executive officer, NRF. “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% seasonally adjusted month over month (MoM) and up 3.07% unadjusted year over year (YoY) in December, according to the Retail Monitor. That compared with increases of 0.77% MoM and 4.24% YoY in November.

The Retail Monitor calculation of core retail sales – excluding restaurants in addition to autos and gas – showed increases of 0.19% MoM and 2.4% YoY in December. That compared with increases of 0.73% MoM and 4.17% YoY in November.

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

License Global reported on The NRF’s 2023 Holiday Sales Forecast in November. NRF forecast that holiday retail sales Nov. 1-Dec. 31 would increase between 3% and 4% over 2022 to a record of between $957.3 billion and $966.6 billion.

So far, those predictions seem to have played out as 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% MoM seasonally adjusted and up 31.17% YoY unadjusted

  • Health and personal care stores were up 0.17% MoM seasonally adjusted and up 5.58% YoY unadjusted

  • Clothing and accessories stores were down 0.44% MoM but up 4.28% YoY unadjusted

  • Grocery and beverage stores were up 0.84% MoM and up 2.39% YoY unadjusted

  • Sporting goods, hobby, music and bookstores were up 0.62% MoM seasonally adjusted and up 2.25% YoY unadjusted

  • General merchandise stores were up 0.86% MoM seasonally adjusted and up 0.84% YoY unadjusted

  • Electronics and appliance stores were down 3.22% MoM seasonally adjusted and down 6.3% YoY unadjusted

  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 0.9% MoM seasonally adjusted and down 3.76% YoY unadjusted

  • Building and garden supply stores were down 1.52% MoM and down 10.17% YoY unadjusted

A recent report from Signifyd also found positive results for retailers, particularly in online sales. Signifyd found that holiday online sales defied gloomy forecasts. Instead, the holiday season ended strong with robust December sales. Online holiday sales for the season were 7% higher than last year, according to Signifyd’s data.

December’s 11% online sales growth over 2022 was surprising given early season predictions that spending would lose steam through the fourth quarter and end with December seeing 3% growth.

Instead, consumers steadily increased spending MoM during the fourth quarter.

“Both we and our merchants were pleasantly surprised by the staying power of the consumer throughout what has typically been the peak holiday period,” says J. Bennett, chief customer officer, Signifyd. “This felt like a return to normalcy, with consumers waiting for better deals later in the season. When retailers ultimately offered those deals, consumers responded in a big way.”

About the Author(s)

Jane Neal

Content Editor, License Global

Jane Neal is a Content Editor for License Global. Working remotely in the great state of Wisconsin, Jane specializes in retail and pop-culture trends.

She has worked extensively in the communication field as a managing editor, advertising copywriter, technical writer and journalist. She detoured for several years into academia where she taught journalism, English and humanities at the college level.

A complete Marvel nerd, she enjoys food, films, fishing, friends and family … and alliteration.

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