Holiday Shoppers Broke a Record This Weekend, Says NRF

SurveysNov 29, 2023

Holiday Shoppers Broke a Record This Weekend, Says NRF

From Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, 200.4 million consumers shopped online and in stores.

Holiday shoppers holding bags
In the five-day period from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, 200.4 million consumers went shopping, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey.
Washington—It was a record-breaking holiday weekend for retailers, according to the National Retail Federation.

From Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, 200.4 million consumers went shopping, exceeding the organization’s expectation of 182 million and surpassing last year’s 196.7 million shoppers.

“We had a very big weekend,” said NRF CEO Matthew Shay on a media call Tuesday morning, adding that NRF “continues to expect a healthy, strong holiday season.”

NRF, in partnership with Prosper Insights & Analytics, surveyed 3,498 adult consumers from Nov. 22-26 about their holiday weekend spending.

Here are five key takeaways from the annual survey.

Black Friday reigns supreme.

Black Friday is still the king of shopping days with 76.2 million shoppers heading to brick-and-mortar stores, up from 72.9 million in 2022.

Fewer shoppers were in stores on Saturday, down to 59 million from 63.4 million last year.

Similar to last year, 78 percent of Saturday shoppers shopped specifically for Small Business Saturday. 

Online shopping gained even more popularity.

Throughout the five-day period, online shopping was the most popular option, chosen by 134.2 million shoppers, up from 130.2 million last year.

Fewer people opted for in-store shopping this year, down to 121.4 million from 122.7 million in 2022.

Black Friday was the most popular day for online shopping, as it has been since 2019, said NRF.

Around 90.6 million consumers shopped online on Black Friday, up from 87.2 million in 2022. 

Cyber Monday, the day known for its online deals, saw 73 million online shoppers, down from 77 million last year. 

Fewer people shopped on their mobile devices, down to 40.5 million from the record of 45.7 million in 2022, though still above the pre-pandemic level.

About 44 million consumers used their home desktop or laptop to shop online on Cyber Monday, in line with last year’s figures. 

The top destinations for holiday shoppers were online (44 percent) followed by grocery stores and supermarkets (42 percent), department stores (40 percent), clothing and accessories stores (36 percent) and electronics stores (29 percent).

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Shoppers spent less on average this year.

Shoppers spent an average of $321.41 on holiday-related purchases this weekend, down from $325.44 last year. Of this spending, 70 percent went to gifts.

NRF does not adjust its calculations for inflation.

Through the weekend, 95 percent of shoppers made holiday-related purchases, down from 97 percent last year, but in line with historical levels, said NRF.

NRF said it does not include purchases made over the long weekend that are not holiday related, like home goods.

The organization expects overall holiday spending to reach record levels in 2023, with year-over-year growth of 3 to 4 percent, pushing the sales total to $957.3 billion to $966.6 billion.

While that’s a slower growth rate than it’s seen in recent years, it is consistent with the average annual holiday increase of 3.6 percent seen each year from 2010 to 2019, said NRF CEO Shay during the holiday forecast call earlier this month, adding that trillions of dollars in stimulus sparked “unprecedented” rates of retail spending from 2020 to 2022.

The numbers are still good “on a historic basis,” he said on Tuesday’s call, adding “there’s a difference between moderation and bleak.”

Consumers have been “more intentional and deliberate” with purchases in recent quarters, said Shay.

Clothing and accessories were the most popular gifts.

As for what people were buying, clothing and accessories were in the top spot at 49 percent.

Toys came in second (31 percent), followed by gift cards (25 percent), books, video games and other media (23 percent), and personal care or beauty items (23 percent).

This year was the first time personal care or beauty items made the top five list.

Holiday sales were persuasive.

More than half (55 percent) of holiday weekend shoppers said their purchases were driven by sales and promotions, up from 52 percent last year.

Thirty-one percent said a limited-time sale or promotion “convinced them to make a purchase they were hesitant about,” up from 29 percent in 2022.

Retailers have been responding to the demand for earlier holiday shopping with sales and promotions this season, said NRF.

More than half (55 percent) said they took advantage of these early sales, with 35 percent shopping the week before Thanksgiving (Nov. 16-22).

As of Thanksgiving weekend, most consumers (85 percent) had started holiday shopping.

Nearly half of consumers (48 percent) said they were halfway done with their shopping, leaving opportunity for retailers in the weeks ahead.

NRF defines the holiday season as Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 and has forecast that holiday spending is expected to reach record levels, growing between 3 percent and 4 percent, totaling $957.3 billion to $966.6 billion.

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