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Nearly 180 Million Americans Shopped Over the Holiday Weekend

Nearly 180 million Americans shopped during the five-day holiday period from Thanksgiving Day to Cyber Monday, according to the National Retail Federation and Proper Insights & Analytics’ annual survey, released today.

The two organizations held a press conference this morning to detail the results of the survey. NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said that the number of people who shopped in stores increased this year, with approximately 104.9 million shoppers visiting stores, up from 92.3 million in 2020. The number of online shoppers decreased from 145.4 million last year to 127.8 this year.

Matthew Shay
Matthew Shay

“Shopping in real life is important to consumers, and this showed,” Shay said. “It’s important to all of us to resume some of those in-person pre-pandemic behaviors, whether that’s traveling, being with family, or shopping.”

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Another interesting finding from the survey is that more and more consumers are getting their holiday shopping done early this year, likely related to fears surrounding the supply chain. Half (49 percent) of shoppers said that they took advantage of early holiday sales or promotions before Thanksgiving this year. The vast majority (84 percent) reported that they have already started shopping, and have completed more than half (52 percent) of their holiday purchases on average.

“Consumers are starting earlier than ever, and that is a trend that began in the last decade,” Shay explained. “This year it’s because of consumers’ awareness of what’s happening in the supply chain. I think retailers have done a really good job of communicating the current environment and encouraging consumers to get out early. We’ve learned that consumers adapt their behavior to the external environment in which they find themselves.”

In the five-day shopping period, Black Friday remained the most popular day for in-store shopping, with 66.5 million shoppers. Small Business Saturday also saw a good amount of business, with 51 million shoppers — 71 percent of which indicated they were shopping specifically for Small Business Saturday. Black Friday surpassed Cyber Monday in terms of total online shoppers, with 88 million shopping online on Friday, and 77 million shopping online on Monday.

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Shay also noted that while Thanksgiving Day emerged as a popular shopping day in the last decade, that changed this year. Many stores, like Target, announced they would be closed on the holiday.

“Retailers and consumers are taking a bit of a break on Thanksgiving Day,” Shay said. “In the last decade, many retailers responding to the needs of consumers were open on Thanksgiving Day. Last year, because of the pandemic, and this year as a continuation of those changed behaviors, many retailers were not open and took a bit of a break on Thanksgiving Day.”

Thanksgiving weekend shoppers spent an average of $301.27 on holiday-related purchases, down slightly from the $311.75 spent in 2020. As in previous years, most ($215.40) of that amount was spent directly on gifts.

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Top gift purchases over the weekend included clothing and accessories (bought by 51 percent of those surveyed), toys (32 percent), gift cards (28 percent), books/music/movies/video games (27 percent), and electronics (24 percent).

The NRF previously predicted that sales will grow between 8.5 percent and 10.5 percent over 2020 to between $843.4 billion and $859 billion. Despite some challenges, such as the supply chain and the new Omicron variant of COVID-19, the NRF is standing by this forecast.

“As we continue to expect a record holiday season, holiday spending continues to support our forecast for a record setting holiday this year,” Shay said. “We are confident we will meet our expectation of sales growth. Retailers continue to find ways to deliver for their customers and shoppers, and we expect a great, successful, enjoyable holiday season.”

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