NRF: Shopping traffic — online and store — up 14% over holiday weekend

Marianne Wilson
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Consumers were in a shopping and spending mood as the holiday season officially got underway. 

A record 189.6 million U.S. consumers shopped (combined, in stores and online) from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday this year, up 14% percent over last year’s 165.8 million, according to a report by National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. The top weekend shopping destinations included department stores (visited by 50% of those surveyed), clothing stores (36%), grocery stores (34%), electronics stores (32%) and discount stores (29%).

Shoppers spent an average of $361.90 on holiday items over the five-day period, up 16% from $313.29 during the same period last year. The biggest spenders were 25- to 34-year-olds at $440.46, closely followed by those 35-44 at $439.72.

The survey found that 124 million people shopped in stores, 142.2 million shopped on retailers’ websites and 75.7 million did both. Consumers who shopped in both channels spent an average of $366.79, spending at least 25% more than those who shopped in only one or the other.

Black Friday was the busiest day for in-store activity, with 84.2 million shoppers, followed by Small Business Saturday (59.9 million), Thanksgiving Day (37.8 million), Sunday (29.2 million) and Cyber Monday (21.8 million). Of those shopping on Saturday, 73% were likely to shop specifically for Small Business Saturday.

For the first time, Black Friday topped Cyber Monday as the busiest day for online traffic at 93.2 million shoppers compared with 83.3 million. Saturday followed at 58.2 million, Thanksgiving Day at 49.7 million and Sunday at 43.1 million.
Other highlights from the NRF survey are below. 

  • Free shipping was the biggest reason for shoppers to make a purchase they were otherwise hesitant about, cited by 49% up from 42% last year. The ability to order online and pick up in-store was cited by 20%, up from 15% last year. Other top factors included limited-time sales or promotions (36%) and an easy-to-use website or app (21%).
  • Thirty-nine percent of consumers looked to emails from retailers for information on deals and promotions, edging out conventional advertising circulars, which were tied with online search at 38%. 
  • Mobile devices played a significant role, used by 75% to research products, compare prices or make purchases, up from 66% last year.
  • Top gift purchases over the weekend included apparel (bought by 58%  of those surveyed), toys (33%), electronics (31%), books/music/movies/video games (28% and gift cards (27%).
  • On average, consumers had completed 52% of their shopping, up from 44% during the same weekend last year, although Thanksgiving came six days earlier in 2018.  

“The growth in online retail sales is a tide that lifts everybody,” Prosper executive VP of strategy Phil Rist said. “When consumers are buying from retailers online but picking up or making returns in-store, it is more and more difficult to distinguish between the sales retailers make in their stores and the ones they make on their websites.”