Washington–More than 174 million Americans shopped in stores and online between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday, according to the National Retail Federation.
This beat the NRF’s initial estimate that 164 million people would shop over the weekend.
This year marked the first that the National Retail Federation included Cyber Monday data in its final review of the weekend, which, combined with a new methodology for gathering numbers, means that it cannot make comparisons to previous years.
Though the NRF did not release total sales numbers for the weekend, it said overall, it was a strong start to the holiday season for retailers.
In a conference call Tuesday, CEO Matthew Shay attributed retailers’ performance to a number of factors: positive consumer sentiment, the overall health of the macro economy, favorable weather across the country and an investment from retailers in both the in-store experience and technology.
Shay also added that for first time in several years, there were no disruptive external factors, like the so-called fiscal cliff, a government shutdown, elections or Brexit, looming over the weekend.
These positive results from the NRF mirror what many jewelers told National Jeweler Monday morning when asked how the start of the holiday shopping season went for them.
According to the NRF, among those who shopped over the weekend, 60 percent said they were mostly driven to shop by the sales. Forty eight percent said the deals they saw this weekend were better than those earlier in the season, which indicates that retailers were ready with the right inventory mixes at good prices, Shay said.
The average spend per person over the five-day period was $335.47.
The demographic that spent the most was the 25- to 34-year-old age group at $419.52. Interestingly, 50 percent of that age group was shopping at department stores, either in store or online.
Fifty eight million consumers shopped exclusively online, 51 million shopped exclusively in store and 65 million did both. The multichannel shopper spent $82, or 32 percent more, on average than the online-only shopper, and $49, or 17 percent more, on average than the in-store shopper.
Top shopping destinations included department stores (43 percent), online retailers (42 percent), electronic stores (32 percent), clothing and accessories stores (31 percent), and discount stores (31 percent).
Some of the most popular gifts purchased included clothing or accessories (58 percent), toys (38 percent), books and other media (31 percent), electronics (30 percent) and gift cards (23 percent).
The most popular day for in-store shopping was Black Friday followed by Small Business Saturday. The top two days consumers shopped online were Cyber Monday and Black Friday.
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Looking ahead, Shay said he expects a strong holiday season, between the success of this weekend and the four full weekends of shopping left.
Still, according to the NRF, 91 percent of shoppers still have more shopping to do and 90 percent of them expect promotions to be the same or better as the holiday season progresses.
“A big key (to meeting expectations) is going to be capturing the momentum that we’ve seen over the last few days, turning that consumer interest into actual sales,” Shay said. “To make that happen, I think we’ll see retailers focusing on their inventory management, pulling all the levers that they can in all areas so ensure they’ve got the right product in the right place, the merchandising mix, the pricing mix, the marketing.”