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It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Shopping! Holiday Sales Exceed Expectations

2 Mins read

Despite a challenging economy, a record number of American consumers shopped over the five-day holiday shopping weekend (Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday), according to the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

In all, 196.7 million of us shopped in-store and online, up 17 million from 2021, with 76% of consumers saying they shopped this past weekend, up from 70% last year and “shattering  NRF’s initial expectations by more than 30 million.”

In a post-pandemic surge, consumers flooded retail stores, with over 122.7 million people shopping in person, up 17% from 2021. Online shopping, which skyrocketed during the pandemic lockdown, grew at a slower pace, with 130.2 million consumers shopping online, up 2% from last year.

Black Friday drew the most shoppers—72.9 million opted for in-store shopping that day, an increase of 6.4 million shoppers from 2021. In good news for small retailers, consumers showed support for small businesses, making Small Business Saturday the 2nd-highest in-store shopping day of the weekend, attracting 63.4 million shoppers, an increase of 12.4 million consumers. And 77% of the Saturday shoppers say they specifically shopped to support small businesses.

Continuing the trend that began in 2019, Black Friday was also the most popular day for e-commerce sales—87.2 million consumers shopped online that day, compared with 77 million who shopped online on Cyber Monday.

Mobile shoppers (mobile or m-commerce) set records, with 59% of online consumers on Cyber Monday using their mobile devices to shop, up from 52% last year.

For those puzzled by so much consumer spending in the light of an uncertain economy and attributing the increase to inflation, Matthew Shay, the President and CEO of the NRF, says we have to “acknowledge the historic growth in consumers who are shopping in-store and online during the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend. It is consumer demand that is driving growth.” And he adds, “there’s a difference between action and attitude.”

And while Shay acknowledges “inflationary pressures” impacting shoppers, he says, “consumers have responded by stretching their dollars in any way possible. Retailers have responded accordingly, offering shoppers a season of buying convenience, matching sales and promotions across online and in-store channels to accommodate their customers at each interaction.” He also says that wage increases and the fact that the nation is at nearly full employment contribute to the consumer buying spree.

In more good news for businesses, while consumers indeed started their holiday shopping early, making what was previously considered the kick-off of the holiday shopping season more like the mid-point of it, there’s a lot of shopping left to do. Consumers say they are about 47% finished with their holiday shopping.

Top gift purchases were clothing and accessories (bought by 50% of those surveyed), toys (31%), gift cards (27%), books/video games/other media (24%), food and candy (23%), and electronics (23%).

Consumers are still looking for deals, so if you want them to shop with you and not your competitors, it’s critical to offer promotions and discounts.

Looking ahead to 2023, Shay says there may be “post-holiday challenges” for retailers with the potential of an economic slowdown. The key, says Shay, is to plan for every contingency.

You can learn more about the holiday season at the NRF Winter Holiday Headquarters.

Holiday Shopping Stock Image by IR Stone/Shutterstock

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