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Retail Forecasts Signal Moderate Growth for Upcoming Holiday Season 

Featured, NSGA News • October 17, 2023

By Nick Rigitano 
NSGA Director of Insights and Analysis 

DOWNERS GROVE, ILLINOIS (October 17, 2023) – With the 2023 holiday season quickly approaching, NSGA has been keeping note of the holiday sales growth forecasts released by multiple organizations. The overall sentiment from the retail holiday forecasts released thus far is moderate growth expected for the upcoming season with the largest gains being driven by the e-commerce channel. 

According to Deloitte’s annual holiday retail forecast, holiday retail sales (Nov. 2022–Jan. 2023) are likely to increase between 3.5 and 4.6 percent compared to last year. Last year’s holiday sales came in slightly higher than expected, growing by 7.6 percent. E-commerce is expected to play a big role again this holiday season and is forecasted to grow between 10.3-12.8 percent. 

“We expect healthy employment and income growth to keep the volume of sales growing for the 2023 holiday season,” said Daniel Bachman, Deloitte’s U.S. economic forecaster. “Inflation, which accounted for much of the increase in the value of retail sales last year, should moderate. This means the total value of retail sales will grow more slowly than last year. Our forecast also reflects a decreasing pool of pandemic-era savings, both of which will weigh on retail sales and are reflected in our lower projected growth for the season.” 

Mastercard is anticipating US retail sales to grow 3.7 percent this holiday season (Nov. 1–Dec. 24), according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures overall retail sales across all payment types. As is the norm in today’s omnichannel world, consumers are expected to shop across all channels with e-commerce expected to increase 6.7 percent and in-store sales to increase 2.9 percent. 

In addition, the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) is expecting retail sales to grow by 3.8 percent year-over-year this holiday season (Nov & Dec). The ICSC noted that 8-in-10 shoppers expect to spend about the same as or more than they did last year during the holiday season. This figure shows a slight uptick compared to the 73 percent of consumers who said the same in 2022, reflecting continued and consistent spending while navigating economic pressures like inflation and higher interest rates. Regarding purchase channels, the ICSC expects consumers once again to take advantage of omnichannel shopping with 87 percent of holiday shoppers planning to shop in-store and 75 percent planning to purchase items online.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) is forecasting holiday spending (November and December) to grow between 3 to 4 percent compared to 2022. This forecast compares lower to last year’s holiday forecast of 6-8 percent but is consistent with the average annual holiday increase of 3.6 percent from 2010-2019. Online and other non-store sales, which are included in the figure, are expected to once again be strong, increasing between 7-9 percent. Prior to releasing the forecast, the organization provided a preview of how consumers are expected to shop this year.

According to NRF’s September Consumer Survey, while many consumers planned to start their holiday shopping earlier this year than normal, the majority (58%) said they planned to finish shopping in December. This leaves the door open for many shoppers to take part in the all-important Thanksgiving weekend rush. Last year, NRF reported a record high of 196.7 million shoppers for Thanksgiving weekend, a 6.7 percent increase over the three-year average of 185.3 million shoppers from 2019-2021.

NRF’s October Consumer Survey revealed that consumers planning to celebrate winter holidays expect to spend an average of $875 on gifts, decorations, food and other key seasonal items. This represents an increase of $42 compared to 2022 and is slightly above the 5-year average holiday budget of $866.

As for Canadian retailers, the holiday outlook appears to be unprecedentedly positive. According to the Retail Council of Canada’s 6th annual Holiday Shopping Survey, Canadians are likely to spend $898 on average this holiday season, substantially higher than the $782 they planned to spend last season. To help shoppers decide which retailers to buy from this year, Canadians are prioritizing holiday sales/promotions (66%) and free shipping (55%). They are also looking for in-store exclusives (48%) and distinct online promotions (60%) to provide additional value. Among the retail channels shoppers will turn to, in-store shopping will benefit from value bundles (26%) and product sampling (25%). Conversely, online shopping will be amplified by unique product offers and extended return policies, both at 33%.

Editor’s Note: This story includes updates from NRF on November 7, 2023 and for ICSC and RCC on October 31, 2023. For updates on additional holiday retail sales forecasts as they are released, be sure to stay tuned to NSGA’s bi-weekly scoreboard newsletter as well as NSGA’s website.


Shopping Centers National Retail Federation Holidays Shopping Deloitte Mastercard ICSC NRF Retail NSGA