According to the latest figures, US clothing and accessories stores were down 0.44% month over month but up 4.28% year over year unadjusted in the December 2023 holiday period.

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

Total retail sales, excluding automobiles and gasoline, were up 0.44% seasonally adjusted month over month and up 3.07% unadjusted year over year in December. That compared with increases of 0.77% month over month and 4.24% year over year in November.

The Retail Monitor calculation of core retail sales – excluding restaurants, autos and gas – showed increases of 0.19% month over month and 2.4% year over year in December. That compared with increases of 0.73% month over month and 4.17% year over year in November.

Total retail sales for all of 2023 were up 5.32% over 2022 and core retail sales were up 4.46%. Online and other non-store sales were up 2.59% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 31.17% year over year unadjusted.

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.

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The results follow NRF’s forecast that holiday retail sales from 1 November through 31 December – excluding autos, gas and restaurants – would increase between 3% and 4% over 2022 to a record of between $957.3bn and $966.6bn. The forecast is based on preliminary data from the US Census Bureau.

Earlier this month the NRF’s chief economist Jack Kleinhenz warned tighter credit conditions and escalated borrowing costs may dampen US consumer spending in 2024.