According to an annual survey released today by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics, nearly 180 million Americans shopped during the five-day holiday shopping period from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday.
“Retailers have adapted and enticed customers with a number of incentives throughout November. The Thanksgiving holiday weekend remains a significant time for friends and families to check specific holiday items off their lists,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Over the last few years consumers have shifted their holiday shopping plans to start earlier in the season.”
In total, 179.8 million unique shoppers made in-store and online purchases during the holiday weekend, exceeding NRF’s initial expectations by over 21 million. The figure compares with 186.4 million shoppers in 2020 and is in line with the average of the last four years.
As retailers continue to extend deals and other offers into October and early November, half (49 percent) of shoppers said they took advantage of early holiday sales or promotions before Thanksgiving this year. Most weekend shoppers (82 percent) felt the deals were the same or better than last Thanksgiving.
The number of people who shopped in stores increased this year. Retailers saw an increase in foot traffic, with approximately 104.9 million shoppers visiting stores, up from 92.3 million in 2020. The overall number of online shoppers decreased to a total of 127.8 million from 145.4 million last year.
Black Friday remained the most popular day for in-store shopping, with 66.5 million shoppers, followed by 51 million shoppers on Small Business Saturday. The importance of supporting local businesses remained top of mind for many consumers, with 71 percent indicating they were shopping specifically for Small Business Saturday. Similar to recent years, Black Friday surpassed Cyber Monday in terms of total online shoppers, with 88 million shopping online the Friday after Thanksgiving compared with 77 million on Monday.
“Over the last few years, Black Friday has emerged as a powerhouse day for both in-store and online shopping,” Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said. “Even though many consumers are starting their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving, a considerable portion of their purchases are still made over the course of the five-day weekend.”
Thanksgiving weekend shoppers spent an average of $301.27 on holiday-related purchases such as gifts, décor, apparel and toys. This is down slightly from $311.75 in 2020. As in previous years, most ($215.40) of that amount was spent directly on gifts.
Top gift purchases over the weekend included clothing and accessories (bought by 51 percent of those surveyed), toys (32 percent), gift cards/certificates (28 percent), books/music/movies/video games (27 percent) and electronics (24 percent).
With a longer holiday shopping season, consumers have welcomed the flexibility it offers. The vast majority (84 percent) of holiday shoppers reported they have already started shopping and have completed more than half (52 percent) of their holiday purchases on average.
NRF defines the holiday season as November 1 through December 31 and has forecast that sales will grow between 8.5 percent and 10.5 percent over 2020 to between $843.4 billion and $859 billion. According to NRF’s annual survey released in October, consumers plan to spend $997.73 on gifts, holiday items and other non-gift purchases for themselves and their families this year.
The survey of 5,759 adult consumers was conducted November 24-29 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.3 percentage points.