NRF 2023 Annual Retail Sales Forecast FAQ


What is NRF forecasting for total retail sales in 2023?

NRF forecasts that retail sales during 2023 will grow between 4% and 6% over 2022 to between $5.13 trillion and $5.23 trillion. Last year’s annual retail sales grew 7% over 2021 and totaled $4.9 trillion. This growth rate is above the pre-pandemic, average annual retail sales growth of 3.6%.

What portion of total retail sales occurs online?

NRF expects that online and other non-store sales, which are included in the total, will increase between 10% and 12% to a range of $1.41 trillion to $1.43 trillion. This figure is up from $1.2 trillion in 2022. Much of the growth in ecommerce is due to multichannel sales, which rely heavily on physical stores. Bricks-and-mortar locations remain the primary point of purchase for consumers, accounting for about 70% of total retail sales.  

Does NRF’s annual forecast account for inflation?

Inflation is taken into consideration in the forecast as inflation can impact how, and how much, consumers spend. However, the forecast is presented on a nominal basis, which means that it is not inflation-adjusted.

What other economic factors does the forecast take into account?

NRF’s 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. The calculation excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants to focus on core retail.

Does NRF factor the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index (CPI) or the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index (PCE) into its forecast?

NRF’s modeling of the economy and retail sales incorporates price changes. Our belief is that the Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index is a more complete and accurate measure of consumer inflation.

How much have retail sales grown in the last few years?

Pre-pandemic, between 2010 and 2019, the average annual retail sales growth was 3.6%.

In 2022, retail sales for the year grew 7% over 2021 to $4.9 trillion, meeting NRF’s forecast of between 6% and 8% growth for the year.


How does NRF define retail sales?

Retail sales, as defined by NRF, include both store-based and online purchases in a broad range of retail categories including discount stores, department stores, grocers and specialty stores, but excludes purchases at automotive dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.

What’s the difference between shopping and purchasing?

NRF defines shopping as browsing items with the intent to purchase, whether online or in stores. Purchasing is the act of actually buying a product.