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11/30/2021

NRF holiday recap: In-store shopping up, online down; average spend falls YOY

Marianne Wilson
Editor-in-Chief
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More than 180 million shopped over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Approximately 104.9 million people shopped in stores from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, up from 92.3 million in 2020, according to the annual survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. The overall number of online shoppers decreased to 127.8 million from 145.4 million last year. 

In total, 179.8 million unique shoppers made in-store and online purchases during the holiday weekend, exceeding NRF’s initial expectations by more than 21 million. The figure compares with 186.4 million shoppers in 2020 and is in line with the average of the last four years.

Thanksgiving weekend shoppers spent an average of $301.27 on holiday-related purchases such as gifts, décor, apparel and toys. This is down slightly from $311.75 in 2020. As in previous years, most ($215.40) of that amount was spent directly on gifts. 

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. Similar 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.

[Read More: Amazon wins Black Friday for second consecutive year]

“Over the last few years, Black Friday has emerged as a powerhouse day for both in-store and online shopping,” said Prosper executive VP of strategy Phil Rist said. “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.”

More findings from the survey are below.

•Half (49% of shoppers said they took advantage of early holiday sales or promotions before Thanksgiving this year. Most weekend shoppers (82%) felt the deals were the same or better than last Thanksgiving.

• Top gift purchases over the weekend included clothing and accessories (bought by 51% of those surveyed), toys (32%), gift cards/certificates (28%), books/music/movies/video games (27%) and electronics (24%).

• The vast majority (84%) of holiday shoppers reported they have already started shopping and have completed 52% of their holiday purchases on average.

NRF defines the holiday season as November 1 through December 31 and has forecast that sales will grow between 8.5% and 10.5% over 2020 to between $843.4 billion and $859 billion.

[Read More: NRF: Holiday spending will be on par with last year]