The five-day holiday shopping weekend saw more shoppers spending more than the same period a year ago, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation.
Shopping crowds from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday were up an estimated 14.3% this year while average spending rose 16% compared to last year, the survey including 6,746 adult shoppers showed. NRF has forecast that holiday sales will increase by up to 4.2% this year.
NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay discussed the results in a wide-ranging presentation earlier this week.
The main findings were:
- The weekend drew 189.6 million shoppers or 58% of the total U.S. population.
- Average personal spending was $361.90, including gifts, holiday decorations and food.
- The biggest gift-givers fell in the 25-34-year-old age group.
- Some 86% said they had started their holiday shopping before last weekend, a 10% increase compared to last year.
- Shoppers across all age groups have begun multichannel shopping in stores, on computers and phones. More store websites have become phone friendly, which encourages more impulse buying.
- Procrastinators (generally men and younger shoppers) began shopping earlier this year.
- Stores have improved their “buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS)” programs, which helped encourage more buying.
- New tariffs that have raised prices aren’t being felt too much yet.
- NRF thinks its projection for holiday sales will hold.
NRF economist Jack Kleinhenz said results last year were disappointing due to factors that do not exist this year. He cited a federal government shutdown, three interest rate increases, a more volatile stock market and the beginning of the trade war with China and worries about tariffs.
“It was a very unusual December (in 2018),” he said. “We don’t necessarily have that same set of factors that we saw a year ago.”