Nearly 180 million Americans shopped during the five-day holiday shopping period from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, according to an annual survey released today by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics, Inc.
"Throughout the month of November, retailers have adapted and engaged customers with a range of incentives. The Thanksgiving holiday weekend continues to be an important time for friends and family to check off specific holiday items on their shopping lists," said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of NRF.
"Over the past few years, consumers have shifted their holiday shopping plans to begin earlier in the season.
A total of 179.8 million shoppers shopped in-store and online over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, more than 21 million more than NRF's initial expectations.
Compared to 186.4 million shoppers in 2020, this number is in line with the average of the past four years.
Number of Thanksgiving weekend shoppers over the past several years. 49% of shoppers take advantage of early pre-holiday promotions to purchase items. Total number of Thanksgiving weekend shoppers.
With a large number of retailers offering discounted deals and other promotions as early as late October and early November, half (49%) of shoppers say they started making holiday purchases earlier this year.
A majority of Thanksgiving weekend shoppers (82%) believe these deals are the same or even better than last Thanksgiving.
The number of people shopping in stores has increased this year.
Retailers saw an increase in traffic, with about 104.9 million shoppers visiting stores, up from 92.3 million in 2020. The total number of online shoppers decreased to 127.8 million from 145.4 million last year.
Black Friday remains the most popular in-store shopping day with 66.5 million shoppers, followed by Small Business Saturday with 51 million shoppers.
For many consumers, the importance of supporting local businesses remains a top priority, with 71 percent of respondents saying they shopped on Saturday specifically to support small businesses.
Similar to recent years, the total number of online shoppers on Black Friday surpassed Cyber Monday, with 88 million people shopping online on the Friday after Thanksgiving, compared to 77 million on Monday.
Number of online and in-store shoppers per day on Thanksgiving weekend in 2021* includes consumers who did both online and in-store shopping
"Over the past few years, Black Friday has become a powerhouse day for in-store and online shopping," said Phil Rist, executive vice president of strategy at Prosper Insights & Analytics.
"While many consumers begin their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving, a significant portion of their purchases are still made during the five-day weekend.
Thanksgiving weekend shoppers spent an average of $301.27 on holiday-related items such as gifts, decorations, clothing and toys.
This is down slightly from $311.75 in 2020. As in previous years, the majority of this ($215.40) went directly to gifts.
The most purchased gifts over the weekend include clothing and accessories (purchased by 51% of respondents), toys (32%), gift cards/gift certificates (28%), books/music/movies/video games (27%), and electronics (24%).
As the holiday shopping season extends, consumers are welcoming the flexibility offered by merchants. An overwhelming majority (84%) of holiday shoppers say they have already started shopping and have completed more than half (52%) of their holiday shopping on average.
NRF defines the holiday season as Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 and forecasts sales to grow between 8.5% and 10.5% to $843.4 billion to $859 billion in 2021.
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 Nov. 24-29 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.3 percentage points.
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