NRF: Average holiday weekend spend down about $50

Marianne Wilson
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Fewer consumers went shopping during the five-day period from Black Friday to Cyber Monday and those that did spent less. 

An estimated 186.4 million consumers shopped in-store and online during the holiday weekend, down from 189.6 million shoppers last year but up from 165.8 million shoppers in 2018, according to the annual survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. The average spending for the period was $311.75, down about $50 from last year but comparable to 2018’s $313.29. 

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

With consumer traffic moving online, the number of in-store shoppers on Thanksgiving Day dropped by 55% from last year and those on Black Friday dropped by 37%. In an interview with CNBC, NRF chairman and president Matthew Shay said he expects shoppers will return to stores on Black Friday in the future. 

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Black Friday next year was the biggest in history,” he said. “I just think that there’s going to be an enormous amount of pent-up demand for all of us to go out and to socialize and to be together and to experience some of the things that we miss right now.”

The NRF noted that holiday shopping kicked in earlier this year as retailers launched early deals amid the pandemic. More than half (52%) of holiday shoppers said they took advantage of early holiday sales and promotions this year. Of those, 38% said they checked off holiday purchases in the week leading up to Thanksgiving. And 53% felt the promotions over the weekend were the same as they had been earlier in the season.

Here are other findings from the NRF survey:

•    The majority (55%) of holiday shoppers said recent developments around COVID-19 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. 

•    Holiday shoppers are eager to support small businesses, as 77% indicated they were more interested in doing so this year.

•    Top gift purchases over the weekend included clothing (bought by 52% of those surveyed), toys (32%), books/music/movies/video games (29%), gift cards/certificates (29%) and electronics (27%).

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

•    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.