Thanksgiving Deals Draw Record Number of Shoppers, Says NRF

SurveysDec 04, 2019

Thanksgiving Deals Draw Record Number of Shoppers, Says NRF

Sales from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday attracted nearly 190 million shoppers, 14 percent more than last year.

Holiday shoppers spent an average $361.90 over the five-day period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, according to the National Retail Federation’s survey.

Washington—A record number of shoppers flocked to sales from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday this year and spent more than last year, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

The survey shows nearly 190 million million U.S. consumers shopped online or in stores over the five-day period, a 14 percent increase over 166 million last year.

But, how much did they spend and what did they buy?

Read on to find out as National Jeweler outlines the survey’s findings, which NRF executives divulged in a conference call late Tuesday morning.

How much did shoppers spend?

According to the survey, consumers spent an average of $361.90 on holiday items over the five-day period, 16 percent more than the $313.29 spent last year, with 71 percent ($257.33) being spent on gifts.

The 25- to 34-year-old shoppers were the biggest spenders at $440.46, followed by shoppers ages 35-44 at $439.72.

Where did they shop?

The survey noted 124 million people shopped in stores while more, 142 million, shopped online.

Shoppers who bought things both online and in stores spent at least 25 percent more ($366.79) than those who shopped through only one channel.

Department stores were the top shopping destinations, cited by 50 percent of those surveyed.

Clothing stores came in second at 36 percent, followed by grocery stores at 34 percent, electronics stores at 32 percent, and discount stores at 29 percent.

When did they shop?

The busiest day for in-store shopping was Black Friday, with sales luring 84 million shoppers, followed by Small Business Saturday with 60 million.

As for Saturday shoppers, 73 percent were likely to shop specifically for Small Business Saturday, according to the survey.

Thanksgiving Day shoppers totaled 38 million, while 29 million shoppers hit stores Sunday.

Cyber Monday came in fifth place, with 22 million shoppers.

This year was the first time Black Friday (93 million shoppers) topped Cyber Monday (83 million) as the busiest day for online shopping.

Saturday sales drew 58.2 million shoppers online, followed by 49.7 million Thanksgiving Day and 43.1 million Sunday.

Who was shopping?

Men and younger consumers are usually the shopping procrastinators, NRF CEO Matt Shay said on Tuesday’s call, but not so this year.

The survey found 87 percent of shoppers under 25 hit stores in the five-day period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday this year, up from 69 percent last year.

Under-25 shoppers completed 58 percent of their holiday shopping in the period, compared with 40 percent a year ago.

For men, 73 percent were out shopping, compared with 65 percent last year.

How about online sales?

“The growth in online retail sales is a tide that lifts everybody,” Phil Rist, Prosper’s executive vice president of strategy, said in a press release announcing the survey results.

For online shoppers, free shipping was the biggest draw to make a purchase they were otherwise hesitant about, according to 49 percent of respondents, up from 42 percent last year.

Being able to buy online and pick up in-store, also known as BOPIS, was another top reason, cited by 20 percent of respondents, up from 15 percent last year.

Limited-time sales and promotions were factors for 38 percent of respondents, while 21 percent cited a user-friendly website or app.

Shoppers hunting for a bargain looked to emails from retailers, 39 percent, just ahead of advertising circulars and online search, which tied at 38 percent.

Mobile devices were used by 75 percent of respondents to research products, compare prices, and make purchases, compared with 66 percent last year.

What did they buy?

Apparel took the top spot for gift purchases at 58 percent, followed by toys at 33 percent, electronics at 31 percent, books, music, movies, and video games at 28 percent, and gift cards at 27 percent.

Consumers, on average, finished 52 percent of their shopping during the five-day period, compared with 44 percent during the same weekend last year. (However, it's worth noting that Thanksgiving was six days earlier in 2018.)

The survey also found 39 percent of shoppers believe deals will get better as the holiday season continues.

Will the tariff negotiations affect holiday sales?

The impact of the current tariffs was not felt this holiday weekend, Shay said on the call.

He noted 80 percent of consumers are aware of, and concerned about, the impact of tariffs on consumer prices, but said shoppers are still out there buying and behaving confidently.

“We know that up to this point, consumers have paid nearly $40 billion in increased prices because of existing tariffs,” said Shay.

“We’re hopeful that we see some positive resolution to trade conversations that are taking place in a number of places now.”

Shay warned against trying to “armchair-quarterback things,” and instead let the situation play out.

Holiday retail sales are expected to increase between 3.8 percent and 4.2 percent year-over-year, with sales totaling as much as $730.7 billion, according to an earlier NRF survey.

The NRF surveyed 6,746 adult consumers from the Wednesday before Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday.

Lenore Fedowis the associate editor, news at National Jeweler, covering the retail beat and the business side of jewelry.

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