A record 189.6 million U.S. consumers shopped from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday this year, and sales are up 14 percent over last year’s 165.8 million, according to a report released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights.

Shoppers spent an average $361.90 on holiday items over the five-day period, an increase of 16 percent from $313.29 spent during the same period last year. Of the total, $257.33 (71 percent) was specifically spent on gifts. The biggest spenders were 25- to 34-year-olds at $440.46, closely followed by those 35-44 at $439.72.

Black Friday proved to be the busiest day for in-store activity, with 84.2 million shoppers braving the crowds to find in-store buys, followed by Small Business Saturday (59.9 million), Thanksgiving Day (37.8 million), Sunday (29.2 million) and Cyber Monday (21.8 million). The survey showed of those who were shopping on Saturday, 73 percent were likely to shop specifically because it was Small Business Saturday.

The survey found that 124 million people shopped in stores, while 142.2 million shopped on retailers’ websites, and more than half, 75.7 million, did both. Consumers who shopped in both channels spent an average $366.79, which translated into at least 25 percent more spending than those who shopped in only in store or online.

One interesting statistic from this survey that every retailer should note – thirty-nine percent of consumers looked to emails from retailers for information on deals and promotions. This year, email edged out conventional advertising circulars and online searches, which were tied at 38 percent. And mobile devices played a significant role, as they were used by 75 percent of consumers to research products, compare prices or make purchases, up from 66 percent last year.

Major shopping destinations included department stores (visited by 50 percent of those surveyed), clothing stores (36 percent), grocery stores (34 percent), electronics stores (32 percent) and discount stores (29 percent).  Top gift purchases over the weekend included apparel (bought by 58 percent of those surveyed), toys (33 percent), electronics (31 percent), books/music/movies/video games (28 percent) and gift cards (27 percent).

“Americans continue to start their holiday shopping earlier in the year, and Thanksgiving is still a critical weekend for millions,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Whether they’re looking for something unique on Main Street, making a trip to the store or searching for the best deals from their mobile device, this is when shoppers shift into high gear. With the condensed holiday season, consumers are feeling the pressure to get their shopping done in time. Even those who typically wait until the last minute to purchase gifts turned out in record numbers all weekend long.”

According to Adobe Analytics data, Small Business Saturday not only held strong, but smashed records, with $3.6 billion in online sales.  “Small Business Saturday posted a record breaking $3.6 billion dollars that was fueled by strong gains from both large and small retailers alike,” said Vivek Pandya, lead analyst at Adobe. “The weekend between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is emerging as a truly lucrative period for online commerce. With a projected $7.6 billion generated over Small Business Saturday and Super Sunday, consumers are taking advantage of post-Black Friday deals and are accelerating spend in the run-up to Cyber Monday.”

Adobe Analytics also noted both large retailers (over $1 billion in yearly revenue) and small retailers (less than $50 million) did well on Cyber Monday. Big box retailers saw a 540-percent surge in sales over an average day, while smaller merchants garnered a 337-percent increase.

In more good news for retailers who count on the holiday season to keep their profits merry and bright, the U.S. economy flexed its muscle Friday, with the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report showed unemployment at a 50-year low of 3.5 percent. Consumer sentiment hit its highest level in a year, as the upper class reaped near-record gains in household wealth.  It appears despite concerns about ongoing impeachment talk, and a trade war, consumers continue to show confidence in the economy and are not going to let political issues affect their holiday purchasing.

On average, consumers completed 52 percent of their shopping between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, up from 44 percent during the same weekend last year, although Thanksgiving came six days earlier in 2018. The chance to grab a great bargain seems to have been a driving force, as only 39 percent of shoppers believe deals that were available over the Thanksgiving weekend will get better throughout the rest of the season.

Want to know more about what the holiday numbers and survey findings mean for your business, have questions about this article, or want to suggest a topic for me to cover in future blogs? I’d love to hear from you! Email me at Ann@JewelersSuite.com today!

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