Amid inflation costs and high interest rates among other factors, sales from 2022’s November-December holiday season were up 5.3 percent over 2021 to $936.3 billion, reports the National Retail Federation. This falls short of the NRF’s forecast for the season that it would increase between 6 and 8 percent over 2021 to between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion.

“The last two years of retail sales have been unprecedented, and no one ever thought it was sustainable,” says NRF president and chief executive officer Matthew Shay. “Nonetheless, we closed out 2022 with impressive annual retail sales and a respectable holiday season despite historic levels of inflation and interest rate hikes to cool the economy. Consumers shopped in record numbers and retailers delivered positive holiday experiences to inflation-wary consumers, offering great products at more promotional price levels to fit their stretched budgets. The fact that we saw retail sales growth on top of December’s 14 percent gain in 2022 shows the resilience of consumers and the creativity of retailers in driving consumption and economic activity while addressing high inflation and continued cost pressures.”

The 2022 growth compares with 4.9 percent average holiday sales growth over the previous 10 years.

“We knew it could be touch-and-go for final holiday sales given early shopping in October that likely pulled some sales forward plus price pressures and cold, stormy weather,” says NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “The pace of spending was choppy, and consumers may have pulled back more than we had hoped, but these numbers show that they navigated a challenging, inflation-driven environment reasonably well. The bottom line is that consumers are still engaged and shopping despite everything happening around them.”