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December ecommerce sales fuel holiday season surprise

Read “The State of Fraud 2023” report

“The State of Fraud 2023” report

Cover of the Signifyd State of Fraud 2023 report

The resilience of U.S. consumers persisted through the very end of the holiday season, as shoppers pushed December online sales up 11% over the previous year, according to Signifyd’s Holiday Season Pulse Tracker.

The surprising month helped propel ecommerce sales for the entire holiday season to a level 7% higher than in 2022. All this to cap off a year marked by economic uncertainty, pessimistic consumers and predictions that holiday 2023 spending would disappoint.  

The Q4 spending figures were particularly remarkable given early-season predictions that reflected the notion that inflation fatigue would have shoppers holding back on holiday splurges. In fact, Signifyd’s late September analysis projected that holiday season spending — from October through December — would be up 5% over the same period last year. The December projection saw sales rising 3% higher than December 2022. 

Discounts continued to be a big story in December 

Discounts, which established themselves as a key holiday storyline during Cyber Week, continued to be an important part of December’s results. The month saw a 14% increase in discount code use over 2022. In all, 23% of online sales in December were accompanied by a discount code. During the fourth quarter overall, shoppers’ discount use increased by 20%. And 24% of all online sales were completed with a discount. 

December online sales — 2023 vs. 2022 


All categories +11%
Grocery  +27%
Electronics +19%
Leisure & outdoor +14%
Luxury goods  +12%
Fashion & apparel +7%
Alcohol, tobacco & cannabis +7%
Home goods & decor 4%
Beauty & cosmetics  2%

In terms of what consumers were spending on, grocery sales led the surge with a 27% year-over-year increase. Electronics was close behind experiencing a 19% boost, and leisure and outdoor goods saw a 14% rise. Luxury goods, fashion and apparel, alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis, and home goods & decor also experienced positive growth.

Was the holiday season a reminder of what normal is?

One significant aspect of the 2023 holiday season was the return of consumers to pre-COVID buying patterns. Early expectations called for consumers to front-load their holiday shopping in October. Instead, spending steadily increased month by month throughout the fourth quarter. 

Holiday season (Q4) online sales — year-over-year change


All categories +7%
Grocery  +24%
Alcohol, tobacco & cannabis +19%
Leisure & outdoor +11%
Electronics  +9%
Luxury goods +9%
Fashion & apparel +4%
Beauty & cosmetics +3%
Home goods & decor 0%

Signifyd’s Chief Customer Officer, J. Bennett, noted that this pattern mirrored the pre-pandemic years when the peak holiday shopping season typically extended from mid-November to about December 20.

“Both we and our merchants were pleasantly surprised by the staying power of the consumer throughout what has typically been the peak holiday period,” Bennett said. “This felt like a return to normalcy, with consumers waiting for better deals later in the season. When retailers ultimately offered those deals, consumers responded in a big way.”

Can consumers keep up with their 2023 spending ways

It will be interesting to see where the surprising holiday season leaves consumers as we move deeper into 2024. Will they continue to search out discounts and keep spending? Or will they finally pull back on spending, allowing savings and household budgets some time to recover?

Signifyd’s Holiday Season Pulse Tracker data is derived from transactions on Signifyd’s Commerce Network of thousands of ecommerce retailers and brands. Commerce Network intelligence also powers Signifyd’s Commerce Protection Platform, which leverages AI-driven machine learning models and data from millions of transactions to detect and block fraudulent activity. Signifyd has seen more than 600 million unique shopper wallets* globally, meaning that 98% of the time when a shopper comes to a Signifyd-protected site, Signifyd’s machine-learning models recognize the shopper instantly. For a tutorial explaining the methods and meanings behind Signifyd’s Holiday Season Pulse Tracker visit Signifyd’s YouTube channel.
A digital wallet is a distinct combination of signals present in an online transaction.

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Mike Cassidy

Mike Cassidy

Mike is the head of storytelling at Signifyd. A former journalist and a retail geek, he covers ecommerce and the way technology is transforming digital commerce. Contact him at [email protected].