Census Data Shows 2023 Holiday Sales Grew to Record $964.4 Billion

Holiday sales data.

U.S. Census Bureau recently released data which shows that core retail sales during the 2023 holiday season grew 3.8% over 2022 to a record $964.4 billion, easily meeting the National Retail Federation’s forecast despite continued inflation and high interest rates, NRF said. Sales for the full year grew 3.6% over 2022 to a record $5.13 trillion.

“Consumer spending was remarkably resilient throughout 2023 and finished the year with a solid pace for the holiday season,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said in a news release. “Although inflation has been the biggest concern for households, the price of goods eased notably and was helped by a healthy labor market, underscoring a successful holiday season for retailers.”

Consistent Annual Holiday Spend Increases

The 2023 holiday sales results top the previous record of $929.5 billion spent during the 2022 holiday season. NRF had forecast that 2023 holiday sales would increase between 3% and 4% over 2022 to between $957.3 billion and $966.6 billion. 

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Despite a slower growth rate compared with the past three years, when trillions of dollars of stimulus led to unprecedented rates of retail spending during the pandemic, 2023’s holiday spending was consistent with the average annual holiday increase of 3.6% from 2010 to 2019, according to NRF.

The holiday total, which is not adjusted for inflation, includes online and other non-store sales, which were up 8.2% at $276.8 billion. Online holiday sales were $255.8 billion in 2022, NRF states.

These Categories Saw Growth

November-December holiday sales saw year-over-year gains in all but two of nine retail categories, led by electronics and appliance stores, health and personal care stores and online sales, according to NRF. Specifics from key sectors for the two months combined, all on an unadjusted year-over-year basis, include:

  • Electronics and appliance stores were up 9.3%.
  • Health and personal care stores were up 9%.
  • Online and other non-store sales were up 8.2%.
  • Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 3%.
  • General merchandise stores were up 2%.
  • Grocery and beverage stores were up 1.1%.
  • Sporting goods stores were up 0.3%.
  • Building materials and garden supply stores were down 3.9%.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 6.2%.