NRF Forecasts Healthy Holiday Sales


Spending is expected to be up between 6% and 8% in November and December.

Despite consumers’ worries about inflation, holiday sales are forecast to be strong, according to the Washington, D.C.-based National Retail Federation.

The NRF expects retail sales during November and December to grow between 6% and 8% over 2021, totaling between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion. Last year’s holiday sales were up 13.5% over 2020 and totaled $889.3 billion, according to a news release.

During the past 10 years, holiday retail sales have averaged an annual increase of 4.9%.

“While consumers are feeling the pressure of inflation and higher prices, and while there is continued stratification with consumer spending and behavior among households at different income levels, consumers remain resilient and continue to engage in commerce,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and chief executive officer. “In the face of these challenges, many households will supplement spending with savings and credit to provide a cushion and result in a positive holiday season.”

NRF expects online and other nonstore sales to increase between 10% and 12%, totaling between $262.8 billion and $267.6 billion. This figure is up from $238.9 billion last year, when consumers turned even more frequently to online shopping.

While e-commerce will remain important, consumers are expected to shift back to more in-store shopping this year, according to the NRF.

“This holiday season cycle is anything but typical,” said Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist. “NRF’s holiday forecast takes a number of factors into consideration, but the overall outlook is generally positive as consumer fundamentals continue to support economic activity. Despite record levels of inflation, rising interest rates and low levels of confidence, consumers have been steadfast in their spending and remain in the driver’s seat.”

Consumers have been starting their holiday shopping early over the past decade in order to spread out their budgets and avoid the stress of holiday shopping. This year, given concerns around inflation, 46% of holiday shoppers said they planned to browse or buy before November, according to NRF’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics. Still, consumers plan to spend $832.84 on average on gifts and holiday items, such as decorations and food, in line with the average for the past 10 years.

NRF’s holiday forecast is based on economic modeling that considers a variety of indicators, including employment, wages, consumer confidence, disposable income, consumer credit, previous retail sales and weather. NRF’s calculation excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants to focus on core retail. NRF defines the holiday season as Nov. 1 through Dec. 31.