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Online holiday sales in November grew 26.27% according to The NRF's Retail Monitor, and increased by 10.6% according to the Census Bureau.

Holiday sales are on track to meet or exceed expectations, according to new data from The National Retail Federation (NRF) and CNBC’s Retail Monitor.

November retail sales excluding automobiles and gasoline grew 4.24% over November 2022, Retail Monitor data shows. Core retail sales, which also excludes restaurants, grew 4.17% in the same period. Both metrics demonstrated higher year-over-year growth than in October, showing that consumers are willing to spend for the holidays despite worries over inflation. 

“November Retail Monitor data shows that consumers are embracing the holiday season and promotions being offered by retailers,” the NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “Value-conscious shoppers are out looking for deals as they purchase gifts for family and friends, and this data indicates that they’re finding them.”

The NRF predicted total holiday spending between November and December would grow 3%-4% year over year.

Online sales lead November

Online sales recorded the largest growth of any category measured by Retail Monitor, growing 26.27% year over year. Retail Monitor’s data comes from credit and debit card purchases from consumer data vendor Affinity Solutions. 


The U.S. Census Bureau also reported online sales growth outpacing total retail in November. Nonstore sales, which encompass online sales, grew 10.6% over 2022. That’s significantly higher than total retail sales, which grew 4.4% over the same period. 

November was a good month for online retailers. On Cyber Monday alone, U.S. consumers spent $12.4 billion online, according to Adobe Analytics. That’s an increase of 9.6% over the shopping day in 2022, surpassing Adobe’s prediction. 

Increases in online sales for the whole Cyber 5 period, from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, were more modest but still significant. Online sales over the key shopping days grew 7.8% year over year to $38.0 billion, per Adobe. They grew nearly twice as much as in 2022, when sales increased 4% over the previous year.

Other category results

Sales increased in seven of the nine categories tracked by Retail Monitor, although none saw the same levels of growth as online sales. 


Health and personal care sales grew 9.15% year over year, according to Retail Monitor, and 8.6% according to the Census Bureau. Sales of sporting goods, hobby items, music and books grew 8.25% in Retail Monitor’s Data, and just 0.3% based on Census Bureau findings. 

Apparel and accessories sales grew in both data sets, up 5.81% per Retail Monitor and 1.2% per the Census Bureau. Apparel was also the most popular online shopping category on Cyber Monday, with sales reaching 189% higher than an average day, according to Adobe.

Consumer electronics sales were less promising. Retail Monitor reports electronics and appliance sales grew just 0.1% year over year in November, while the Census Bureau reports that they declined 0.2%. Lackluster results are due to a relatively poor performance on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, according to consumer behavior research firm Circana.

“This year’s holiday tech consumers are more focused on the value of their purchase than just getting the lowest price,” says Paul Gagnon, consumer technology industry advisor for Circana. “Black Friday shoppers had a more leisurely shopping experience this year, with ample inventory to choose from as they took advantage of bargains on big-screen TVs, and opted for higher-priced computer purchases.” Electronic unit sales declined 3% year over year during Cyber Week, and dollar sales declined 4%, Circana found.


Retail Monitor recorded declining sales in building and garden supplies (down 0.06%) and furniture and home furnishings (down 2.08%). The Census Bureau also noted a decline of 5.5% annually in furnishings, likely a result of high mortgage rates and a sluggish real estate market.

The halfway point of the holiday sales season

November results give analysts and retailers an early look at how overall holiday sales might perform. 

“Since November makes up half the holiday season, these numbers are a positive indication of what we can expect for the full holiday season,” the NRF’s Shay says. 

Holiday sales so far are right on track with expectations, says Dipanjan Chatterjee, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester. Though consumers report low confidence and high anxiety about the state of the economy and their spending, other signs say things are looking up.


Unemployment is low, pandemic-era savings haven’t entirely been drawn down, house values are high. This financial security continues to stimulate spending despite trepidations about an uncertain financial future,” Chatterjee told Digital Commerce 360.

Consumers are price resilient this year.

“The trick for retailers this holiday season is to sell without giving it away, knowing that the consumer is financially able to stretch,” Chatterjee says. “That is why we see retailers dialing back on sitewide sales and free shipping, and offering volume-based discounts to extract greater spending in return for a deal.”

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