Despite worries about savings and inflation, a record number of U.S. shoppers turned out for deals over the Thanksgiving weekend, according to new data from the National Retail Federation (NRF). Retailers appear well-positioned to meet demand without major stockouts or oversupply issues.
Over 200 Million Shoppers Break Records
The NRF reports that over 200 million consumers shopped from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, breaking last year’s previous record by 3.7 million shoppers. The turnout surpassed the NRF’s initial forecasts by 18 million.
“There are substantial savings still sitting on the sidelines,” said NRF President Matthew Shay, even as some economists worried consumers had already depleted pandemic savings stockpiles.
On average, holiday weekend shoppers spent around $321 each. About 60% still have more holiday shopping left to do in December, according to the NRF survey conducted with Prosper Insights & Analytics.
In-Store Traffic Rebounds After Pandemic Dip
While more consumers still shop online, in-store visits rebounded this year after declining during the pandemic. Around 121 million shoppers went to physical stores over the long weekend, up slightly from last year.
Black Friday saw 76 million in-store shoppers, up from 73 million in 2022. However, Cyber Monday online sales dipped compared to a year ago.
Holiday Inventories Hold Up
Despite the high demand, Shay said inventory levels remain balanced overall, without signs of depletion or concerning overstocks.
The strong weekend sales numbers align with the NRF’s forecast of 3-4% total holiday sales growth in November and December. That could translate into over $960 billion in holiday spending this year.
Extending the Season
While the NRF defines the holiday sales season as November 1 through December 31, it notes the season seems to unofficially launch earlier each year in October.
Retailers have contributed to the lengthening with holiday promotions and early access holiday sales aimed at competing for wallet share. Access to free shipping offers has also emerged as a key driver in converting shoppers.
The extended season means retailers have more time to capture holiday demand while avoiding risky large build-ups of last-minute excess inventory. Stockouts are also less likely with purchasing spread out over a longer time period.
By driving record turnout over the long Thanksgiving weekend, consumers have shown their willingness to spend this holiday season. Time will tell whether that pace continues through December amid economic uncertainty. But so far, holiday sales appear on track for growth while inventories hold steady.
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