Shop ’til you drop took on a whole new meaning during the long Thanksgiving weekend.
The Thanksgiving holiday from Thanksgiving Day to Small Business Saturday through Cyber Monday, more than 165 million Americans shopped either in stores or online, surpassing the 164 million who had said they would shop in a consumer sentiment survey conducted ahead of the holiday, the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics said Tuesday.
The average shopper spent $313.29 on gifts and other holiday items over the five-day period. Of that, $217.37 or 69 percent was specifically spent on gifts. The biggest spenders were older millennials and Gen Xers (35-44 years old) at $413.05.
“For several years, we’ve been talking about the dynamic nature of the retail industry and the speed of change necessary to meet the consumer demand,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a prepared statement. “This year’s research clearly shows that the investments made by retailers are paying off in a big way. Over the last couple of days, what I heard in discussions with retail CEOs across all categories and segments was very positive, driven by macro conditions of low unemployment and rising wages combined with the right mix of merchandise at great prices. This is a very strong emotional start to the holiday season and a positive indicator of where we are headed over the next month.”
Retailers’ investments in technology continued to pay off with consumers seamlessly shopping on all platforms throughout the weekend. The survey found more than 89 million people shopped both online and in stores, up nearly 40 percent from last year. The multichannel shopper outspent the single-channel shopper by up to $93 on average.
Spending estimates from various groups have indicated that Thanksgiving weekend was record-breaking for the retail industry, consistent with NRF’s holiday forecast of up to a 4.8 percent increase in holiday spending over the months of November and December. In addition, purchases over the long weekend showed new trends coming from younger consumers, with Gen Zers and younger millennials aged 18-24 spending an average $149 on holiday purchases for themselves, more than any other generation.
Top purchases over the weekend included apparel (bought by 57 percent of those surveyed), toys (34 percent), books and video games (29 percent), electronics (26 percent) and gift cards (20 percent).
“This year, Gen Zers and millennials changed the way they shopped over Thanksgiving weekend,” Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said in a prepared statement. “These younger shoppers have become savvier when it comes to their research by leveraging social media to find inspiration for their purchasing decisions and used the holiday weekend to splurge on non-gift purchases for the season.”
The most popular day to shop online was Cyber Monday, cited by 67.4 million shoppers, followed by Black Friday with 65.2 million shoppers. The most popular day for in-store shopping was Black Friday with more than 67 million shoppers, followed by Small Business Saturday with 47.4 million shoppers. Also, 66 percent of smartphone owners used their mobile devices to make holiday decisions, up from 63 percent last year.
With more shopping days before Christmas this year, consumers are taking their time to finalize their holiday gift purchases. On average, consumers have more than half (56 percent) of their holiday shopping left to do. Many consumers (92 percent) believe that the strong deals seen over Thanksgiving weekend will continue or improve throughout the rest of the season.
Top shopping destinations during the weekend included department stores (42 percent), online retailers (38 percent), apparel stores (30 percent), grocery stores (30 percent), discount stores (29 percent) and electronics stores (27 percent).
The survey, which asked 3,058 consumers about Thanksgiving weekend and Cyber Monday shopping plans, was conducted November 24-25 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.8 percentage points.
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