Amazon: Thanksgiving Biggest Holiday Shopping Weekend Ever

Amazon Nov. 30 announced that the Thanksgiving holiday shopping weekend was its biggest ever, with consumers globally purchasing hundreds of millions of products between Nov. 24-28. Among Amazon’s top-selling Thanksgiving weekend items included Echo Dot smart speakers, Fire TV Stick, Apple AirPods, Echo Show, and Nintendo Switch.

“This was a record-breaking holiday shopping weekend for Amazon,” Doug Herrington, CEO, WW Amazon Stores, said in a statement.

Adobe Analytics reported that Black Friday (Nov. 25) alone set a new overall ecommerce sales record at $9.12 billion.

Separately, a record 196.7 million Americans shopped in stores and online during the five-day holiday, according to the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. The total number of shoppers grew by nearly 17 million from 2021 and is the highest figure since NRF first started tracking this data in 2017.

“As inflationary pressures persist, consumers have responded by stretching their dollars in any way possible,” Matthew Shay, CEO of NRF, said in a statement. “Retailers have responded accordingly, matching sales and promotions across online and in-store channels to accommodate their customers at each interaction.”

According to the survey, more than 76% of consumers say they shopped over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, up from 70% in 2021. The numbers shattered NRF’s initial expectations by more than 30 million.

Retailers saw a sizable uptick of in-store shoppers. More than 122.7 million people visited bricks-and-mortar stores over the weekend, up 17% from 2021. The number of online shoppers also grew, albeit at a slower pace. This year saw 130.2 million online shoppers, a 2% increase over 2021.

Black Friday continues to reign as the most favored day for in-store shopping. Approximately 72.9 million consumers opted for a more traditional in-person shopping experience, up from 66.5 million in 2021. The Saturday after Thanksgiving followed suit, with 63.4 million in-store shoppers, up from 51 million last year. A majority (77%) of Saturday shoppers indicated they shopped specifically for the so-called “small business Saturday” marketing event.

Black Friday was also the most popular day for online shopping, continuing a trend that started in 2019. Roughly 87.2 million consumers shopped online during Black Friday this year, in line with 2021. Similar to last year, 77 million people shopped online on Cyber Monday. A record 59% of online Cyber Monday shoppers used their mobile device, up from 52% in 2021.

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

Consumers spent an average of $325.44 on holiday-related purchases over the course of the weekend, up from $301.27 in 2021. Of that amount, most ($229.21) was directed specifically toward gifts.

NRF: Record 166.3 Million Shoppers Expected During Thanksgiving Weekend — 33% Eyeing Packaged-Media Gifts

An estimated 166.3 million people are planning to shop from Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 24) through Cyber Monday (Nov. 28) this year, according to the annual survey released Nov. 17 by the National Retail Federation.

The tally is almost 8 million more people than last year and is the highest estimate since NRF began tracking Thanksgiving Day weekend data in 2017.

“While there is much speculation about inflation’s impact on consumer behavior, our data tells us that this Thanksgiving holiday weekend will see robust store traffic with a record number of shoppers taking advantage of value pricing,” Matthew Shay, CEO of NRF, said in a statement.

The top five gift categories consumers plan to give are clothing (55%), followed by gift cards at 45%, toys at 37%, packaged media at 33% and food/candy at 31%.

According to the survey of 7,719 adult consumers conducted Nov. 1-8, more than two-thirds (69%) of holiday consumers plan to shop during the Thanksgiving weekend. The top reasons cited include deals too good to pass up (59%), because of tradition (27%) or because it is something to do (22%) over the holiday.

Black Friday (Nov. 25) continues to be the most popular day to shop, with 69% (114.9 million) planning to shop then, followed by 38% (63.9 million) on Cyber Monday. Among the 114.9 million Black Friday shoppers, 67% say they expect to head to stores, up from 64% in 2021.

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Online search (43%) remains the most popular source of gift inspiration, followed by friends and family (35%) and within a retail store (31%).

Similar to 2020 and 2021, this year 60% of holiday shoppers had started browsing and buying for the season as of early November. This consumer trend of earlier shopping was accelerated by the pandemic. In 2019, 56% of holiday shoppers had started their shopping around this time.

NRF forecast earlier this month that holiday sales during November and December will grow between 6% and 8% over 2021 to between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion. Last year’s holiday sales grew 13.5% over 2020 and totaled $889.3 billion, shattering previous records. Holiday retail sales have averaged an increase of 4.9% over the past 10 years, with pandemic spending in recent years accounting for considerable gains.

“We are optimistic that retail sales will remain strong in the weeks ahead, and retailers are ready to meet consumers however they want to shop with great products at prices they want to pay,” Shay said in a statement.

NRF: 148 Million Americans Plan to Shop on ‘Super Saturday’ (Dec. 18)

More than 148 million U.S. consumers plan to shop in-store and online on the last Saturday (Dec. 18) before Christmas this year, according to a new survey released Dec. 14 by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

The number reflects a slight drop from last year when 150 million consumers were expected to shop, but an increase from the 147 million expected shoppers in 2019.

“Retailers began preparations for the holiday season months in advance, offering seasonal inventory early and taking preventative measures to circumvent supply chain challenges exacerbated by the pandemic,” Matthew Shay, CEO of NRF, said in a statement.

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With the date falling exactly one week before Christmas, the number of anticipated Super Saturday shoppers is the third-highest reported since NRF began tracking this figure in 2016. Just over a quarter of consumers (27%) plan to shop exclusively in-store and another third (32%) plan to shop online only. However, most (41%) expect to use a combination of the two channels.

While consumers plan to spend a total of $997.73 on holiday purchases this year, as of this month, they had completed roughly half (52%) of their holiday shopping. Still, many are aiming to wrap up their shopping early, with a record 42% planning to purchase their last gift before Dec. 18.

This figure is up from 40% a year ago and 30% in 2012 when NRF first asked this question. Even so, some procrastinators remain. More than half (52%) expect they will still be picking up last-minute gifts in the week leading up to Christmas.

As noted in NRF’s Thanksgiving survey, more than half (54%) of holiday shoppers took advantage of early holiday sales and promotions even before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Last month nearly 180 million Americans shopped during the five-day shopping period from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday. With the countdown to Christmas inching closer, the vast majority (84%) of holiday shoppers had started checking items off their lists by early December.

Nearly half (48%) of holiday shoppers plan to complete the remainder of their shopping online. Other top destinations include department stores (34%), discount stores (21%), clothing and accessories stores (20%) and local and small businesses (16%). Among the most popular gifts purchased to date was electronics (20%).

Retailer efforts to mitigate the impact of supply chain challenges appear to have paid off. The majority (71%) of holiday shoppers say they have been able to find the items they are looking for most or all of the time. And optimism is high, with two-thirds (67%) indicating they are confident or very confident they will be able to find the gifts and other items needed for the holiday season this year.

“When shoppers do experience difficulty finding gifts, they take a proactive approach toward alternate solutions like checking another retailer, location or channel or identifying a substitute item,” said Prosper EVP of strategy Phil Rist.

As expected, holiday shopping will continue into the new year. The survey found that 65% of holiday shoppers plan to shop during the week immediately following Christmas. The top reasons consumers plan to shop during this time are to take advantage of deals and promotions (42%) and to use gift cards (24%).

NRF defines the holiday season as Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 and has forecast that holiday sales will grow between 8.5% and 10.5% over 2020 to between $843.4 billion and $859 billion. The 2021 holiday season appears to be on track to reach as high as 11.5% growth over last year.

The survey of 7,453 adult consumers was conducted Nov. 24 through Dec. 3 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2%.

NRF: 180 Million People Shopped Over Thanksgiving Weekend

Nearly 180 million Americans shopped during the five-day holiday shopping period from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday (Nov. 29), according to the annual survey released Nov. 30 by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

The tally, which exceeded the trade group’s initial estimates by 21 million, trailed last year’s total of more than 186 million. The data underscores the reality that the winter holiday shopping season has expanded to begin before Thanksgiving. Indeed, 49% of survey respondents said they took advantage of pre-holiday sales.

“Over the last few years consumers have shifted their holiday shopping plans to start earlier in the season,” Matthew Shay, CEO of the NRF, said in a statement.

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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% indicating they were shopping specifically for “Small Business Saturday.” Similarly 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,” said Phil Rist, EVP at Prosper Insights & Analytics. “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.”

Trade Group Predicting Highest-Ever Winter Retail Sales

Following a 2020 winter retail impacted by the pandemic, new data from the National Retail Federation suggests the 2021 holiday retail season will record the highest sales ever.

The trade group Oct. 27 contends that holiday sales during November and December will grow between 8.5% and 10.5%, respectively, from the same period in 2020. Monthly sales will range from $843.4 billion and $859 billion, respectively. The forecast, which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline and restaurants, compares with a previous high of 8.2% in 2020 to $777.3 billion and an average increase of 4.4% over the past five years.

“There is considerable momentum heading into the holiday shopping season,” Matthew Shay, CEO of the NRF, said in a statement.

The executive believes consumer sentiment is favorable heading into the last months of the year as income is rising and household balance sheets have “never been stronger.”

“Retailers are making significant investments in their supply chains and spending heavily to ensure they have products on their shelves to meet this time of exceptional consumer demand,” Shay said.

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NRF expects that online and other non-store sales, which are included in the total, will increase between 11% and 15%, respectively, to a total of between $218.3 billion and $226.2 billion. That number is up from $196.7 billion in 2020.

Due to the pandemic in 2020, winter retail saw extraordinary growth in digital channels as consumers increasingly turned to online shopping to meet their holiday needs. While e-commerce will remain important, households are also expected to shift back to in-store shopping and a more traditional holiday shopping experience.

“The outlook for the holiday season looks very bright,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “The unusual and beneficial position we find ourselves in is that households have increased spending vigorously throughout most of 2021 and remain with plenty of holiday purchasing power.”

With pandemic-related supply chain disruptions in the headlines, Kleinhenz said he believes that with the prospect of consumers looking to shop early, inventories may be pulled down sooner and shortages may develop in the later weeks of the shopping season.

“However, if retailers can keep merchandise on the shelves and merchandise arrives before Christmas, it could be a stellar holiday sales season,” he said.

While it appears new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are down, a variant surge could potentially sidetrack the current trajectory of spending, according to the NRF. Kleinhenz said strong household fundamentals provide optimism amid the uncertainty. Income is growing from wage compensation, and household wealth has reached another record high. These together support strong spending this holiday season.

NRF expects retailers will hire between 500,000 and 665,000 seasonal workers. That compares with 486,000 seasonal hires in 2020. Some of this hiring may have been pulled into October as many retailers encouraged households to shop early to avoid a lack of inventory and shipping delays. With the earlier start retailers have announced thousands of open positions in bricks-and-mortar stores and warehouse and distribution centers.

Weather traditionally factors into holiday sales, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a high likelihood of a La Niña pattern of cooler and wetter weather in the north and warmer and drier weather in the south. This climate phenomenon has in the past correlated with stronger retail sales and could be a factor in 2021, according to the NRF.

The holiday forecast is based on economic modeling that considers a variety of indicators including employment, wages, consumer confidence, disposable income, consumer credit, previous retail sales and weather. The NRF defines the holiday season as Nov. 1 through Dec. 31.

The methodology used to calculate holiday retail employment in 2020 was changed to accommodate the sizeable impact of COVID-19 on overall industry employment. In 2021, the NRF returned to a traditional employment buildup method.

NRF Forecasts Retail Sales to Exceed $4.3 Trillion in 2021 as Vaccine Rollout Expands

The National Retail Federation Feb. 24 issued its annual forecast, anticipating that retail sales will grow between 6.5% and 8.2% to more than $4.33 trillion in 2021 as more individuals get vaccinated and the economy reopens.

“Despite the continuing health and economic challenges COVID-19 presents, we are very optimistic that healthy consumer fundamentals, pent-up demand and widespread distribution of the vaccine will generate increased economic growth, retail sales and consumer spending,” Matthew Shay CEO of NRF, said in a statement.

Early results show that retail sales in 2020 grew 6.7% percent over 2019 to $4.06 trillion, nearly doubling NRF’s forecast of at least 3.5% growth, which did not account for the impact of a global pandemic. This figure compares with 3.9% growth in 2019. Online and other non-store sales, which are included in the total figure, skyrocketed to 21.9% at $969.4 billion as consumers shifted to e-commerce. The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.

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The 2020 November-December holiday season accounted for nearly one-fifth (19.4%) of overall annual retail sales. Retail sales during this period grew an unexpectedly high 8% to $787.1 billion. Non-store and other online sales represented $206.9 billion of total holiday sales, up 22.6% over the year before.

NRF forecasts that 2021 retail sales are estimated to total between $4.33 trillion and $4.4 trillion. Online sales, which are included in the total, are expected to grow between 18% and 23% to between $1.14 trillion and $1.19 trillion.

NRF expects the overall economy to gain between 220,000 and 300,000 jobs per month in 2021, depending on the pace of the overall economy in the second and third quarters. Despite the economy’s stalled momentum at the end of last year, NRF forecasts real GDP growth between 4.5% and 5%, respectively.

“The trajectory of the economy is predicated on the effectiveness of the vaccine and its distribution,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Our principal assumption is that that the vaccination will be effective and permits accelerated growth during the mid-year. The economy is expected to see its fastest growth in over two decades.”

Kleinhenz noted that this year marks the second year of savings, record high stock valuations, increased home prices, enhanced government support and record low interest rates, which are all contributing factors towards the economy and consumer spending behavior.

Additionally, Kleinhenz said households will still consume retail goods but will turn to services as they are able, which normally account for 70 percent of consumer spending. While the pandemic has precipitated broader adoption of multichannel services for the retail industry, households are becoming attached to the convenience and product selection of buying online.

Retail Group Applauds New Stimulus Deal

The National Retail Federation lauded Congress for passing new economic aid to consumers during the ongoing pandemic and winter holiday retail season. The $900 billion Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act of 2020 provides for an immediate $600 payment to most Americans, in addition to $300 to the unemployed, and millions for small businesses and independent movie theater operators.

“Retailers are encouraged by the passage of this economic relief package that will keep the economy open and moving in the right direction as the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic continues,” CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.

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The trade group’s November retail sales report showed that consumers held back on spending, and more robust government stimulus was needed to shore up the economy and the retail industry, which creates employment for 52 million Americans.

The NRF has forecast that holiday sales will increase between 3.6% and 5.2% over 2019 to a total between $755.3 billion and $766.7 billion — with 27% of holiday shoppers seeking packaged media entertainment.

“The retail industry has invested billions of dollars throughout the pandemic to ensure the health and safety of employees and customers,” Shay said. “Our hope is this latest stimulus will be a down payment on economic relief next year.”

NRF: More Than 150 Million Consumers Plan to Shop on ‘Super Saturday’ (Dec. 19) — With 27% Eyeing Packaged-Media Gifts

With less a week before Christmas, more than 150 million U.S. consumers plan to shop on Super Saturday (Dec. 19), up slightly from 147.8 million in 2019, according to new data from the National Retail Federation.

NRF’s survey of 8,092 adult consumers was conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics Nov. 25 through Dec. 4. The trade group defines the holiday season from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 and has forecast that sales will increase between 3.6% and 5.2% over 2019 to a total between $755.3 billion and $766.7 billion. Over the 2020 holiday season, NRF expects that online and other non-store sales, which are included in the total, will increase between 20% and 30%. In total consumers plan to spend $997.79 on gifts, holiday items and additional “non-gift” purchases for themselves and their families this year, according to NRF’s annual survey released in October.

“Throughout this year’s extraordinary circumstances, retailers have remained dedicated to protecting their customers, employees and the communities they serve regardless of how and when consumers choose to shop,”  Matthew Shay, CEO of NRF, said in a statement.

The number of anticipated shoppers on the last Saturday before Christmas includes both in-store and online and is the second-highest reported since NRF began tracking this figure in 2016. Of those planning to shop, 42% intend to do so solely online. Last year Super Saturday occurred just a few days before Christmas, while this year it falls nearly a week before the Christmas holiday, giving shoppers a few extra days to complete purchases.

As noted in NRF’s Thanksgiving survey, more than half (52%) of holiday shoppers took advantage of early holiday sales and promotions even before the Thanksgiving holiday. Last month 186.4 million Americans shopped between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday. As of early December, 85% of holiday consumers had started shopping and they had completed 52% of their purchasing for the season.

For those with at least half of their shopping left to complete, 37% were still deciding what to buy, 26% were waiting for family and friends to tell them what they wanted, and 23% were holding off for the best deals. Similarly to last year, more than half (54%) of holiday shoppers plan to purchase their last gift during the week leading up to Christmas.

A majority (52%) of holiday shoppers plan to do the remainder of their shopping online. Other top destinations include department stores (30%), discount stores (20%), clothing and accessories stores (20%) and electronics stores (17%).

Top gift purchases so far included clothing and accessories (45%), toys (29%), gift cards (28%), books and other media (27%) and electronics (23%). Just 21% of holiday shoppers plan to give a “gift of experience” this year, down from 25% in 2019 and the lowest since NRF first asked the question in 2015.

“While traditionally a popular item, it’s clear that the pandemic has impacted ‘gifts of experience’ this year,” said Phil Rist, Prosper’s EVP of strategy. “With continued uncertainty around gatherings and out-of-home activities, we saw the biggest decline in plans to gift an experience among those ages 35 to 44, but the under-25 cohort also saw a significant dip.”

Still, shopping will continue into the new year. The survey found that two-thirds (66%) of holiday shoppers will likely shop in the week immediately following Christmas. The top reasons consumers plan to shop during the last week of December are to take advantage of post-holiday sales and promotions (45%) and use gift cards (27%). Whether it’s shopping post-holiday sales immediately after Dec. 25 or in the first few weeks of the new year, nearly half of shoppers plan to shop these deals online.

NRF: November Holiday Retail Sales Up 8.8% Despite Pandemic

November retail sales increased 8.8% from the previous-year period despite the pandemic — but declined 1.1% from October, according to new data from the National Retail Federation.

“Consumers held back on spending in November [from October] as virus rates spiked, states imposed retail restrictions and congressional stimulus discussions were gridlocked,” NRF CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.

Shay’s comments come as Congress appears moving toward a $900 billion stimulus package that would include an additional $300 weekly atop other unemployment funds. That amount is 50% less than what the federal government paid unemployment recipients in the first CARES Act, which expired on July 30.

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“We are hopeful [the second stimulus] will be passed soon as we enter the final stretch of the holiday season,” Shay said.

The U.S. Census Bureau Dec. 16 reported that overall retail sales in November were down 1.1% seasonally adjusted from October but up 4.1% year-over-year. That compares with a monthly drop of 0.1% but a yearly gain of 5.5% in October.

“The month-over-month decline isn’t surprising because some spending was pulled forward into October by campaigns encouraging consumers to shop early and shop safe,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “Despite that, as we go into the final weeks of 2020, year-over-year trends show spending is holding up well regardless of month-to-month fluctuations. Nonetheless, we have to remember the remainder of the holiday season depends critically on the virus. We are optimistic, but spending could shift into a lower gear if the virus continues to spread.”

November saw year-over-year gains in seven out of nine retail categories, led by double-digit increases for online sales, building materials and sporting goods.

  • Grocery and beverage stores were up 1.6% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 8.5% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Building materials and garden supply stores were up 1.1% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 17.2% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Online and other non-store sales were up 0.2% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 30% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sporting goods stores were down 0.6% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but up 14% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Health and personal care stores were down 0.7% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but up 2.6% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • General merchandise stores were down 1% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but up 1% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 1.1% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but up 0.4% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were down 3.5% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and down 9.9% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Clothing and clothing accessory stores were down 6.8% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and down 19.2% unadjusted year-over-year.

 

NRF’s calculation of retail sales — which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants to focus on core retail — showed November was down 0.3% seasonally adjusted from October but up 8.8% unadjusted year-over-year. That compared with a decrease of 0.1% month-over-month and an increase of 10.5% year-over-year in October. NRF’s numbers were up 10.8% unadjusted year-over-year on a three-month moving average.

Monthly numbers fluctuate even when adjusted for seasonal variations, making year-over-year comparisons a better indication of long-term trends. On a year-over-year basis, retail sales have increased each month since May under NRF’s calculation and since June under the Census Bureau calculation. Retail sales during the first 11 months of the year were up 6.6%, according to NRF’s calculation.

NRF has forecast that holiday sales will increase between 3.6% and 5.2% over 2019 to a total between $755.3 billion and $766.7 billion. While NRF defines the holiday season as Nov. 1 through Dec. 31, NRF research shows 42% of consumers started holiday shopping sooner than usual this year after NRF urged the public to shop safe and shop early. On average, consumers had about half their holiday shopping left to do as of Thanksgiving weekend.

NRF: Movie DVDs Among Top-Selling Thanksgiving Weekend Sales Items; Shopping Traffic Down Slightly

An estimated 186.4 million consumers took advantage of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend price discounts and shopped in-store and online this year, according to the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

After toys, books, music, movie DVDs, video games (29%), gift cards/certificates (29%) and electronics (27%) ranked among top-selling items, according to a survey of 6,615 adult consumers conducted Nov. 25-30 .

While the overall number of shoppers from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday dropped slightly from 189.6 million in an unusually robust 2019, this figure is still significantly higher than the 165.8 million shoppers in 2018.

“As expected, consumers have embraced an earlier start to the holiday shopping season, but many were also prepared to embrace a long-standing tradition of turning out online and in stores over Thanksgiving weekend to make gift purchases for family and friends,” NRF CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.

Black Friday and Saturday saw strong growth in online activity. For the first time, the number of online Black Friday shoppers passed the 100 million mark, up 8% over last year. The number of online Saturday shoppers grew even more, up 17% compared with last year. Online-only shoppers increased by 44% for the entire weekend, for a total of 95.7 million.

With retailers enticing consumers with generous deals as early as October, more than half (52%) of holiday shoppers said they took advantage of early holiday sales and promotions this year. Of those, 38 percent said they checked off holiday purchases in the week leading up to Thanksgiving. More than half (53%) felt the promotions over the weekend were the same as they had been earlier in the season.

As expected, in-store shopping was down given both the state of the pandemic as well as the number of retailers who opted to close on Thanksgiving Day. With consumer traffic moving to online channels, the number of in-store shoppers on Thanksgiving Day dropped by 55% from last year and those on Black Friday dropped by 37%. An earlier NRF survey found that a large majority (70%) of holiday shoppers say they feel safe shopping in stores this holiday season given the precautions retailers have taken for COVID-19.

Over the five-day period, shoppers spent an average of $311.75 on holiday-related purchases such as gifts or decorations, down from last year’s total of $361.90 but comparable to 2018’s $313.29. Of that amount, nearly three-quarters ($224.48) was spent directly on gifts.

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Consumers have continued to stress the importance of holidays throughout this year. In fact, the majority of holiday shoppers (55%) said recent developments around COVID-19 cases had no impact on their holiday spending plans this year. Most (51%) also feel that given the pandemic, they are more interested in holiday decorations and seasonal items. They were also eager to support small businesses, as 77% indicated they were more interested in doing so this year.

“The growth in online activity this year was significant, particularly for Black Friday and Saturday shoppers,” said Phil Rist, EVP of strategy at Prosper Insights & Analytics. “With the start to the holiday shopping season continuing to move up even earlier, consumers will further utilize these channels.”

Shopping destinations included department stores (visited by 40% of those surveyed), grocery stores (39%), clothing stores (33%) and electronics stores (31%).

Although consumers have embraced the earlier start to the holiday shopping season, their lists are not quite complete. Holiday shoppers have about half of their shopping left to do and 91% expect they will continue to see great deals throughout the rest of the season.

NRF defines the holiday season as Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 and has forecast that sales will increase between 3.6% and 5.2% over 2019 to a total between $755.3 billion and $766.7 billion. Over the 2020 holiday season, NRF expects that online and other non-store sales, which are included in the total, will increase between 20% and 30%. In total consumers plan to spend $997.79 on gifts, holiday items and additional “non-gift” purchases for themselves and their families this year, according to NRF’s annual survey released in October.