U.S. holiday sales rose by 5.3%, but fell short of estimates, as shoppers feeling the brunt of stubbornly high inflation pulled forward purchases to October when retailers offered hefty discounts, data from the National Retail Federation (NRF) showed Wednesday.
The leading retail industry group said including e-commerce, holiday sales jumped to $936.3 billion during November and December, missing its forecast of a rise of between 6% and 8% over 2021.
"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,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said.
In an attempt to exhaust excess inventories and bring back stocks to normal levels retailers including Amazon.com Inc., Target Corp. and Walmart Inc. offered discounts as early as October.
This helped spur demand and lure in price sensitive consumers who are seeing decades-high inflation eat into their disposable income.
Americans awaited their chance to purchase products at the lowest possible price between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. During the five-day long period, a record 196.7 million shoppers made purchases in stores and online, exceeding its expectations, according to the NRF.
However, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday that retail sales dropped 1.1% in December putting consumer spending and the overall economy on a weaker growth path heading into 2023 as shoppers pulled forward holiday purchases into October.
Earlier this month, Adobe Analytics reported U.S. online spending rose a better-than-expected 3.5% during the 2022 holiday season, as Americans capitalized on hefty discounts. However, online holiday sales grew at the slowest pace as customers felt the brunt of rising prices.
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