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Sales rise in December to help fuel solid holiday for retailers

holiday shopping
Online and other non-store sales were up 2.59% month over month in December.

Consumer spending inched up in December, helping retailers end the holiday season, which started strong in November, on an upbeat note. 

Core retail sales – excluding restaurants, autos and gas – edged up 0.19% month-over-month and 2.4% year-over-year in December, according to the CNBC/Retail Monitor. That compared with increases of 0.73% month-over-month and 4.17% year-over-year in November.  

Total retail sales — including restaurants but excluding autos and gasoline — rose 0.44% month-over-month and up 3.07% year over year in December. That compared with increases of 0.77% month over month and 4.24% year over year in November. (Unlike survey-based numbers collected by the Census Bureau, the Retail Monitor, which was launched in November, uses actual, anonymized credit and debit card purchase data collected by Affinity.)

“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. “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.”

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% and 4% 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 next week.

December sales were up in five categories on a monthly basis, led by online sales, and 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.

     Specifics from key sectors include:

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