Bain expects US retail holiday sales to grow 3% year-over-year to nearly US$915B, the lowest holiday growth rate since 2018; with 90% growth coming from nonstore sales, retailers face economic hurdles as shoppers gravitate toward nondiscretionary spending

Sample article from our Retail & Omnichannel

September 11, 2023 (press release) –

NEW YORKSeptember 11, 2023— Bain & Company forecasts nominal US retail sales to slow this holiday season, with the lowest growth rate since 2018. Unadjusted seasonal sales are expected to grow 3.0% year-over-year (YoY) in November and December, reaching nearly $915 billion, with 90% of the growth coming from nonstore (e-commerce and mail-order) sales. However, adjusting for inflation, real US holiday retail sales growth will be sluggish at just 1.0%, well below the 10-year average and the lowest real sales growth since the financial crisis. Bain explores this and other insights for the upcoming holiday season in its annual Retail Holiday Newsletter series.

According to Bain & Company’s analysis, US retail sales have been relatively slow in 2023, up 4.0% YoY, on a nominal basis. Bain found that growth has largely come from e-commerce, along with select in-store categories, such as health & personal care, general merchandise, and food & beverage. Other in-store categories have decelerated over the past few months, with some categories declining in overall sales. As the holiday season approaches, retailers will continue to face economic challenges stifling holiday sales this November and December, with shoppers allocating more to costly non-discretionary spending.

“Retailers are facing new challenges this year and are overcoming headwinds from higher interest rates amid increasing debt,” said Aaron Cheris, head of Bain & Company’s Americas Retail practice. “That being said, several tailwinds may boost holiday retail growth with prices remaining elevated as compared to last year, even as inflation slows. Retailers are continuing novel, targeted marketing approaches, using technologies like generative AI and livestreaming.”

While e-commerce and mail ordering continue to accelerate, in-store sales growth has slowed in recent months, and inflation has decreased spend across categories. Bain expects shoppers to pull forward more holiday spending this year, including during October sales, and the firm predicts holiday sales may benefit from greater consumer spending power, as wages, disposable income, and stocks all up relative to last year.

“Savvy retailers will start early and lead with value messaging—both in terms of price and quality—employing positive commonalities to appeal to potentially cautious consumers this holiday season,” said Sarah Irizarry, associate partner in Bain & Company’s Retail practice. “Winners will continue to invest amid challenges and focus on new solutions that personalize their offerings and improve overall customer service.”

Editor's Note: For more information or interview requests please contact Katie Ware at or +1 646 562 8107.

* All content is copyrighted by Industry Intelligence, or the original respective author or source. You may not recirculate, redistrubte or publish the analysis and presentation included in the service without Industry Intelligence's prior written consent. Please review our terms of use.

See our dashboard in action - schedule an demo
Jason Irving
Jason Irving
- SVP Enterprise Solutions -

We offer built-to-order retail & omnichannel coverage for our clients. Contact us for a free consultation.

About Us

We deliver market news & information relevant to your business.

We monitor all your market drivers.

We aggregate, curate, filter and map your specific needs.

We deliver the right information to the right person at the right time.

Our Contacts

1990 S Bundy Dr. Suite #380,
Los Angeles, CA 90025

+1 (310) 553 0008

About Cookies On This Site

This website stores cookies on your computer. These cookies are used to improve your website experience and provide more personalized services to you, both on this website and through other media. To find out more about the cookies we use, see our Privacy Policy. We won't track your information when you visit our site. But in order to comply with your preferences, we'll have to use just one tiny cookie so that you're not asked to make this choice again.