5 Things Retailers Should Know About the Start to the Holiday Season

SurveysNov 30, 2022

5 Things Retailers Should Know About the Start to the Holiday Season

Plus, what a potential rail strike would mean for retailers.

2022_Holiday presents.jpg
During the five-day holiday shopping period from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, a record 196.7 million Americans shopped in stores and online, according to the annual survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.
Washington—It was a record-breaking Thanksgiving weekend for retailers, according to the annual survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

Despite inflationary pressures, shoppers turned out in droves to take advantage of holiday weekend deals.

However, a looming rail strike could spell big trouble for the rest of the holiday season.

Here are five key takeaways from the NRF survey.

A record number of consumers shopped over the holiday weekend.

During the five-day period from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, a record 196.7 million Americans shopped in stores and online, up 9 percent compared with 179.8 million shoppers last year.

It marks the highest number of shoppers for this period since the NRF first started tracking this metric in 2017.

More than three-quarters (76 percent) of consumers surveyed said they shopped over the holiday weekend compared with 70 percent in 2021.

The number of shoppers exceeded the NRF’s initial expectations by more than 30 million.

Consumers spent an average of $325.44 on holiday-related purchases over the weekend, up from $301.27 in 2021.

“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,” said NRF CEO Matthew Shay.

Black Friday is still king of the shopping days.

Black Friday was the most popular day for both in-store and online shopping.

On Black Friday, 72.9 million consumers shopped in stores, up 10 percent compared with 66.5 million in 2021.

Though Cyber Monday is meant to promote online shopping, Black Friday also was the most popular day for online shoppers, continuing a trend that began in 2019.

Around 87.2 million consumers shopped online on Black Friday, in line with 2021 stats.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, dubbed Small Business Saturday, was the second most popular day for in-store shopping, with 63.4 million in-store shoppers, up 25 percent from 51 million last year.

A majority (77 percent) of Saturday shoppers said they shopped specifically to support small businesses.

On Cyber Monday, 77 million people shopped online, similar to last year’s numbers. Notably, a record 59 percent of Monday shoppers used their mobile device, up from 52 percent last year.

In-store shopping is back and early shopping is here to stay.

Retailers welcomed more consumers in-store this year.

Over the holiday weekend, more than 122.7 million people shopped in brick-and-mortar stores, up 17 percent compared with 2021.

“It was very obvious this year that there was an enormous resurgence of in-store shopping,” said Shay on a media call Tuesday.

“That reflects the enthusiasm for the weekend, for being out and resuming some of those pre-pandemic behaviors, reliving and renewing some of the family traditions, and being out publicly in ways we haven’t been able to in several years.”

Online shopping saw more moderate growth, up 2 percent year-over-year with 130.2 million consumers buying online. 

The top destinations for shoppers were online (42 percent), department stores (42 percent), grocery stores and supermarkets (40 percent), clothing and accessories stores (36 percent) and discount stores (32 percent). 

The top gifts purchased were clothing and accessories (50 percent), toys (31 percent), gift cards (27 percent), books/video games/other media (24 percent), food and candy (23 percent) and electronics (23 percent). 

As for when people went shopping, more than half (56 percent) of respondents said they shopped holiday sales before Thanksgiving. 

One-quarter shopped before Nov. 16 while more than one-third (36 percent) were shopping in the week leading up to Thanksgiving (Nov. 16-23).

 Related stories will be right here … 

A rail strike could be disastrous for the holiday season.

The looming threat of a freight railroad strike could lead to a walk-out of more than 100,000 union members.

“Any slowdown, stoppage, or delay in rail transit of goods and people in this country would be devastating for our economy, for American households, and for working families,” said Shay, adding he hopes Congress can move quickly to resolve the situation.

The NRF relaunched a grassroots campaign this week, calling on Congress to pass legislation to avoid a strike.

Rail workers are asking for paid sick leave, which they are not currently given, and for changes to be made to an attendance policy that penalizes workers for taking time off when sick, according to The Washington Post.

Rail workers and the railroads have been in talks to negotiate a deal that would avoid a shutdown for months, but the Dec. 9 strike deadline is approaching.

On Monday, President Biden and other Democratic leaders called on Congress to impose a deal, one voted down by union members, that would avoid a shutdown.

“As a proud pro-labor President, I am reluctant to override the ratification procedures and the views of those who voted against the agreement,” Biden said in a statement.

“But in this case—where the economic impact of a shutdown would hurt millions of other working people and families—I believe Congress must use its powers to adopt this deal.”

Though many retailers have their holiday inventory on hand already, the impact of a rail strike would still be significant.

“Our concern is not only the direct impact on retail, but the broader impact on other sectors of the economy that would impact employment, consumer spending, confidence levels, all of those things. We think the holiday season would be the worst possible time,” said Shay.

The holiday outlook remains the same.

Despite myriad economic headwinds and the potential rail strike, the NRF’s holiday forecast remains the same.

It expects retail sales to grow 6 to 8 percent year-over-year to between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion.

“It continues to be an unpredictable year and very different from the last two holiday seasons,” said Shay, citing headwinds like inflation, interest rates, and a tight labor market.

However, consumers are still spending. Retail sales have grown year-over-year every month since May 2020, marking 30 consecutive months of growth after a brief contraction at the start of the pandemic.

And there’s still more shopping to come.

Though holiday shopping has been starting earlier in recent years, many people save their major holiday shopping for November and December.

“On average, consumers say they are almost halfway (47 percent) done with their holiday shopping at this point in time, leaving plenty of room for additional purchases in the remaining weeks of the year,” said Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist.

The Thanksgiving weekend turnout left Shay hopeful for the remainder of the holiday season.

“The only r-word we need to worry about is the railway strike, not the other one [recession] because what we’re seeing here doesn’t seem to reflect any sense of negativism about economic prospects.”

NRF defines the holiday season as Nov. 1 through Dec. 31.

The survey was conducted from Nov. 23-27 and reached out to 3,326 adult consumers.

The Latest

Pantone color of the year 2024
TrendsDec 08, 2023
Pantone’s Color of the Year Is Warm and Fuzzy

The peachy hue also marks the program’s 25th anniversary.

Mary Tyler Moore and Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co. Bone Cuffs
AuctionsDec 08, 2023
Sotheby’s Sold All Mary Tyler Moore’s Jewelry

The 21 pieces up for auction, including Tiffany & Co. jewels and a Cartier watch, garnered more than $430,000 across two sales.

Inesa Kovalova’s Links pin
CollectionsDec 08, 2023
Piece of the Week: A ‘Strong & Precious’ Brooch

Centered on a sunny heliodor, the “Links” pin was designed by Ukrainian jewelry artist Inesa Kovalova.

De Beers | Diamonds Falling
Brought to you by
The Most Important “C” in Diamonds: Confidence!

Without the ability to instill confidence within the industry and directly to the consumer, a diamond holds very little value.

Lashbrook ring
MajorsDec 07, 2023
Lashbrook Sues Manly Bands for Allegedly Copying Designs

The wedding band company is also accusing its former customer of removing watermarks from Lashbrook images for its own use.

Weekly QuizDec 07, 2023
This Week’s Quiz
Test your jewelry news knowledge with this short test.
Take the Quiz
Rough diamonds from Alrosa
Policies & IssuesDec 07, 2023
The G7’s Long-Awaited Statement on Russian Diamonds Is Here

It provides a timeline for the implementation of new restrictions, but no details.

24 Karat Club of New York new members
MajorsDec 07, 2023
24 Karat Club of New York Welcomes New Members

The organization has elected 12 new additions.

Platinum  Guild International Diamond Rings
Brought to you by
If It’s Custom, Make It Platinum

With holiday proposals right around the corner, encourage your customers to go for platinum when making the big purchase.

National Jeweler columnist Sherry Smith
ColumnistsDec 06, 2023
On Data: How Are Independents Doing So Far This Holiday Season?

Sherry Smith breaks down the numbers on jewelry sales in November and reveals the category that “emerged as a standout.”

133 carat yellow diamond
AuctionsDec 06, 2023
A Yellow Diamond, Hollywood Jewels Stand Out at Sotheby’s

Additional lots will be offered in the Fine Jewels online sale through Dec. 7.

GIA logo
GradingDec 06, 2023
GIA Debuts Revamped Graduate Jeweler Program

By mixing creative and practical skills, the new course hopes to fill the industry’s bench jeweler gap.

A 1930s gem-set and enamel ‘Maltese cross’ cuff attributed to Verdura for Chanel (left) and a loose cushion-cut Burmese sapphire weighing 11.87 carats (right) were the top lots in Bonhams New York Jewels auction this week.
AuctionsDec 06, 2023
Verdura Cuff, Burmese Sapphire Shine at Bonhams

Several other colored gemstones joined the pieces in the top 10 list.

Neil Lane lab-grown diamond engagement ring
FinancialsDec 05, 2023
Signet Jewelers’ Q3 Sales Down 12%

The retailer is still expecting a strong holiday season with improving demand for natural diamonds.

Memorial for slain jeweler Peter Damian Arguello in Wheat Ridge, Colorado
CrimeDec 05, 2023
Police Continue to Investigate Murder of Colorado Jeweler

Peter Damian Arguello, the owner of Peter Damian Fine Jewelry & Antiques, was shot and killed in an apparent robbery last week.

Tanishq store
MajorsDec 05, 2023
Tanishq Continues U.S. Expansion With 2 New Stores

The Indian jewelry giant has opened locations in Houston and Frisco, Texas.

Grandview Klein Diamonds Namibia scholarship winners
SourcingDec 05, 2023
Grandview Klein Awards Two Scholarships in Namibia

Each student was provided with the full amount of tuition for the Namibia University of Science & Technology.

De Beers Ryan Perry and David Prager
SourcingDec 04, 2023
David Prager To Leave De Beers in 2024

Ryan Perry, who has been with De Beers since 2002, also will be leaving the company next year.

Chrono24 ChronoPulse
WatchesDec 04, 2023
Chrono24 Debuts the ‘Dow Jones’ for Luxury Watches

The watch seller’s new index tracks sales data from 14 brands, including Rolex and Patek Philippe.

David Bouffard Signet Jewelers
MajorsDec 04, 2023
David Bouffard to Leave Signet, RJC

The industry veteran will step down from both roles in April 2024.

David Webb turquoise and lapis ring
TrendsDec 04, 2023
Amanda’s Style File: Decadent December

Tanzanite, turquoise, and zircon are all options for December babies, who sometimes “get the birthday shaft,” Amanda Gizzi writes.

Lightbox x Roséate Light Wand pendants
Lab-GrownDec 01, 2023
Lightbox Teams Up With Brand Founded by Former Tiffany Exec

The lab-grown diamond brand also collaborated with the website The Future Rocks on a collection launching today.

Lila Moss Calvin Klein campaign
FinancialsDec 01, 2023
Movado Lowers Guidance Again After Q3 Sales Dip

The company said it is facing a “challenging retail environment” but is prepared for the holiday season.

Muzo emerald and argyle pink diamond necklace
CollectionsDec 01, 2023
Piece of the Week: Muzo’s Emerald and Argyle Pink Diamond Necklace

It’s the hero piece of the newest "Green Jewel" collection, a collaborative offering from the two mines.

Pink Supreme Diamond
AuctionsNov 30, 2023
This Pink Diamond Reigned Supreme in Hong Kong

The 15.48-carat fancy intense “Pink Supreme” topped Christie’s fall jewelry auction in Asia, while a Patek Philippe led the watch sale.

Claire’s CFO COO Chris Cramer
MajorsNov 30, 2023
Claire’s Hires Former Bath & Body Works Exec as CFO, COO

Chris Cramer, who also spent time at Gen Z intimates brand Parade, will take on the dual role.

133 carat yellow diamond
AuctionsNov 30, 2023
Sotheby’s To Auction 133-Carat Yellow Diamond

The stone headlining the upcoming sale could fetch up to $5 million.

Kwiat diamonds
IndependentsNov 30, 2023
Frank Adams Rolls Out Kwiat’s ‘Mine to Shine’ Program

The retail offering lets customers track their diamond’s journey.


This site uses cookies to give you the best online experience. By continuing to use & browse this site, we assume you agree to our Privacy Policy