Early read on U.S. holiday spending ’slightly positive’

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 608 views 

The early read on the winter holiday sales indicates a record 196.7 million Americans shopped in stores and online during the five-day holiday shopping period from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, according to the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

The total number of shoppers grew by nearly 17 million from 2021 and is the highest figure since NRF began tracking the data in 2017, the trade group reported Tuesday (Nov. 29).

NRF reports consumers spent an average of $325.44 on holiday-related purchases over the weekend, up from $301.27 in 2021. Of that amount, $229.21 was directed toward gifts. The top destinations for Thanksgiving weekend shoppers were online (42%), department stores (42%), grocery stores and supermarkets (40%), clothing and accessories stores (36%) and discount stores (32%), the trade group reports.

“It is important to note that while some may claim that retail sales gains are the result of higher prices, they must acknowledge the historic growth in consumers who are shopping in-store and online during the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend and into Cyber Monday. It is consumer demand that is driving growth,” said NRF CEO Matthew Shay.

Retailers and mall operators expected to see crowds return to U.S. brick and mortar locations during the long holiday shopping weekend. According to the NRF survey, 76% of consumers said they shopped over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, up from 70% in 2021. More than 122.7 million people visited bricks-and-mortar stores over the weekend, up 17% from 2021. The number of online shoppers also grew, albeit at a slower pace. This year saw 130.2 million online shoppers, a 2% increase over 2021, NRF reported.

NRF and other market analytic data providers said Black Friday was the most shopped day of the weekend. NRF said 72.9 million consumers shopped in stores on Black Friday, up from 66.5 million in 2021.The Saturday after Thanksgiving followed suit, with 63.4 million in-store shoppers, up from 51 million last year. Also 77% of Saturday shoppers indicated they shopped specifically for Small Business Saturday. Also, 90% of Thanksgiving weekend shoppers felt the deals were the same or better than last year.

“While Thanksgiving is no longer the starting point for holiday shopping, the five-day shopping period still plays an important role in the overall holiday season,” Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said. “On average, consumers say they are almost halfway (47%) done with their holiday shopping at this point in time, leaving plenty of room for additional purchases in the remaining weeks of the year.”

Black Friday was also the most popular day for online shopping, continuing a trend that started in 2019. Roughly 87.2 million consumers shopped online during Black Friday this year, in line with 2021. Similar to last year, 77 million people shopped online on Cyber Monday. A record 59% of online Cyber Monday shoppers used their mobile device, up from 52% in 2021, NRF reports.

MasterCard SpendingPulse data indicates Black Friday retail spending online and at stores rose 12% from a year ago. The figure excluded auto sales but included the 21% jump in restaurant sales.

“Slightly Positive and we continue to expect fourth quarter to be a little more back-end loaded than last year due to the prior-year inventory issues,” noted analysts with Bank of America about Black Friday sales data.

Analysts with Wells Fargo said inflation is around 8% and credit card balances rose 15% in the third quarter, indicating consumers are charging more of their purchases. While the early results indicate more consumers went shopping over the extended holiday period it’s too early to know how retailers will fare as most have already forecasted lower profits.

Adobe Analytics reported Black Friday online spending totaled $9.12 billion, up 2.3% year over year, while Salesforce reports U.S. e-commerce sales rose 12.1% to $15 billion on Black Friday. In both cases online spending surpassed earlier expectations. Salesforce reports online order volumes on Black Friday rose 6% from a year ago, suggesting shoppers were ordering more, helping to boost the total spend despite inflationary pricing.

On Saturday, Nov. 26, Adobe Analytics data indicates consumers spent $9.55 billion online, up 4.4% from a year ago, followed by $4.96 billion on Sunday, Nov. 27, up 6.1% year over year. According to Salesforce analysis, U.S. Black Friday weekend online sales rose 10.2% to $17.2 billion.

Adobe expects Cyber Week – the five days from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday – to generate $34.8 billion in online spend, up 2.8% year over year, and representing 16.3% share of the full November-December holiday season. Adobe estimated consumers spent a record $5.29 billion on Thanksgiving day, up 2.9% compared with the same day in 2021.

Season-to-date (Nov. 1 to Nov. 27), Adobe Analytics has tracked consumers’ online spending at a total of $96.42 billion, up 2.1% from the same time last year. Since Nov. 1, online shoppers spent more than $2 billion every day, with 19 days above $3 billion in online spend. According to Adobe, early discounts were the main drivers for the shift in consumer spending.