According to the latest holiday spending statistics by the National Retail Federation (NRF), which defines the holiday spending period as the months of November and December, US holiday season sales have been growing at an average of 5.1% per year from 2012 to 2022.

In 2012, consumers spent $567.6 billion during the year-end shopping season. Since then, holiday retail sales have been steadily increasing. 

The largest of these annual growths came in 2021. At a 12.7% increase year-over-year, 2021’s holiday retail sales hit $881.6 billion, beating the previous high recorded in 2020 when holiday retail sales grew at an annual rate of 9.1%. It also came rather unexpectedly for a year that was plagued by challenges triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, NRF analysts had previously predicted a growth of up to 11.5% to $859 billion. In contrast, the smallest annual increase between 2012 and 2023 was in 2018, when holiday retail sales rose by 1.8%.

2021’s holiday retail sales record growth came despite inflation, logistical disruptions, and the coronavirus pandemic. Experts have attributed the increase to strong wages and record savings from consumers, as well as some ingenuity from retailers.

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US holiday retail sales: 2022–2023

Despite rising inflation and falling consumer confidence in 2022, US holiday retail sales continued to grow, reaching $929.5 billion, 5.3% over 2021’s numbers.

Recent reports show that as 2023’s holiday season got underway, industry analysts predicted an annual increase of up to 4%, which will take the year’s holiday retail sales to $966.6 billion. Experts say this growth is likely to be driven by stable finances, which continue to drive spending. 

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Further holiday spending statistics reveal that the average holiday spending per person is also set to rise in 2023, from $833 in 2022 to $875. The majority of this will be on gifts—$620 is expected to be spent on gifts, while $255 will be on seasonal products such as decorations, food, and greeting cards. More specifically, 56% of holiday shoppers say they intend to gift clothing or accessories in 2023. Cards and toys also make up the top presents people expect to give. 

If you’re thinking about leveraging the holiday season to boost your store’s revenues, make sure you also conduct research on key habits such as when consumers begin their holiday shopping and how much of it is done online.

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