Retail sales continued to grow in December, completing a strong holiday shopping season, according to the data from the National Retail Federation in the CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor, powered by Affinity Solutions.

“December’s numbers combined with November’s results show retailers had a very successful two-month holiday season,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “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.”

Total retail sales, excluding autos and gas, were up 0.44 percent seasonally adjusted month-over-month (MoM) and up 3.07 percent unadjusted year-over-year (YoY) in December, according to the CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor. That compared with increases of 0.77 percent MoM and 4.24 percent YoY in November.

The Retail Monitor calculation of core retail sales, excluding restaurants, autos and gas, showed an increase of 0.19 percent MoM and 2.4 percent YoY in December. That compared with gains of 0.73 percent MoM and 4.17 percent YoY in November.

Total retail sales for the full calendar year 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 record sales between $957.3 billion and $966.6 billion.

The NRF based its forecast on data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The final results will be known when the Census Bureau releases December’s numbers.

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 MoM, seasonally adjusted, and up 31.17 percent YoY unadjusted.
  • Sporting goods, hobby, music, and bookstores were up 0.62 percent MoM, seasonally adjusted, and up 2.25 percent YoY unadjusted.
  • Clothing and accessories stores were down 0.44 percent MoM but up 4.28 percent YoY unadjusted.
  • General merchandise stores were up 0.86 percent MoM, seasonally adjusted, and up 0.84 percent YoY unadjusted.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were down 3.22 percent MoM, seasonally adjusted, and down 6.3 percent YoY unadjusted.
  • Health and personal care stores were up 0.17 percent MoM, seasonally adjusted, and up 5.58 percent YoY unadjusted.
  • Grocery and beverage stores were up 0.84 percent MoM and up 2.39 percent YoY unadjusted.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 0.9 percent MoM, seasonally adjusted, and down 3.76 percent YoY unadjusted.
  • Building and garden supply stores were down 1.52 percent MoM and down 10.17 percent YoY unadjusted.

 Photo courtesy CuddlyNest