By Melissa Fares
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A record number of U.S. consumers spent more online and in stores over the holiday weekend for everything from clothing to toys, the National Retail Federation said on Tuesday.
NRF’s survey found nearly 190 million people made purchases over the five-day holiday shopping period from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, an increase of roughly 14% from 165 million a year ago. It cited a healthy economy and a condensed holiday shopping season.
The world’s largest retail trade association said its survey of 6,746 adult consumers, conducted Wednesday through Monday by research firm Prosper Insights & Analytics, showed that shoppers spent $361.90 on average over the five-day period, up 16 percent from $313.29 during the same period last year.
Shoppers made more purchases online on Black Friday than in the mall – hurting traffic and sales at brick-and-mortar stores, with many retailers offering earlier holiday promotions and year-round discounts. NRF said 124 million people shopped in stores, while roughly 142 million shopped on retailers’ websites. For the first time, Black Friday topped Cyber Monday as the busiest day for online shopping, it added.
Black Friday remains important for holiday shopping but its relevance is fading amid early promotions, with six fewer sales days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and a shift toward online shopping.
“Americans continue to start their holiday shopping earlier in the year, and Thanksgiving is still a critical weekend for millions,” NRF Chief Executive Officer Matt Shay said. He noted that more than half of consumers polled by NRF in the first week of November had begun making purchases.
“With the condensed holiday season, consumers are feeling the pressure to get their shopping done in time.” The NRF stuck to its forecast for retail sales to rise between 3.8% and 4.2% this holiday season from a year ago, for a total of $727.9 billion to $730.7 billion. Craig Johnson, president of retail consultancy Consumer Growth Partners, projected that over the four-day Black Friday weekend, store sales grew by 3%, whereas online sales rose 14% from last year.
He said sales were led by the “Big Four” mega-retailers — Walmart <WMT.N>, Amazon <AMZN.O>, Costco <COST.O> and Target <TGT.N>, and “both Black Friday and the full weekend reached record levels…” Sneakers, laptops, Air Pod Pros, and Frozen 2 merchandise were among the popular items bought over the weekend, he said. Research released on Monday by Adobe Digital Insights, which tracks transactions at 80 of the top 100 U.S. retailers, showed total sales for the weekend to be roughly $29 billion. RetailNext, another analytics firm, on Monday said net sales at brick-and-mortar stores fell nearly 1% over the holiday weekend and store traffic was down 4.2%.
(Reporting by Melissa Fares in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler)