Record number of consumers shop over Thanksgiving weekend
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 annual survey released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics.
The total number of shoppers grew by nearly 17 million from 2021 and is the highest figure since NRF first started tracking this data in 2017.
“The Thanksgiving holiday shopping weekend is a tradition treasured by many American families,” said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of NRF. “As inflationary pressures persist, 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 adds: “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.”
According to the survey, more than three-quarters (76%) of consumers say they shopped over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, up from 70% in 2021. The numbers shattered NRF’s initial expectations by more than 30 million.
Retailers saw a sizable uptick of in-store shoppers. More than 122.7 million people visited brick-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.
Black Friday continues to reign as the most favored day for in-store shopping. Approximately 72.9 million consumers opted for a more traditional in-person shopping experience, 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. A majority (77%) of Saturday shoppers indicated they shopped specifically for Small Business Saturday.
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.
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%).
Consumers spent an average of $325.44 on holiday-related purchases over the course of the weekend, up from $301.27 in 2021. Of that amount, most ($229.21) was directed specifically toward gifts.
The vast majority of Thanksgiving weekend shoppers (90%) 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,” said Phil Rist, executive vice president of Prosper. “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.”
The top gifts purchased 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%).
While early deals and sales did entice some to shop before mid-November, many still save the bulk of their shopping for November and December. More than half (56%) of shoppers said they took advantage of early holiday sales or promotions before Thanksgiving this year. One-quarter (24%) did so before Nov. 16 and another 36% shopped in the week leading up to Thanksgiving (Nov. 16-23).
NRF defines the holiday season as Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 and has forecast that retail sales will grow between 6% and 8% over 2021 to between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion.
The survey of 3,326 adult consumers was conducted Nov. 23-27 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.8 percentage points.