Sat, May 25, 2024

Robust sales report kicks off Christmas buying

Gloomy predictions for a less-than-healthy holiday sales season were dispelled by a report this week from the National Retail Federation (NRF).

During the five-day period from Black Friday through Cyber Monday, NRF found a record 200.4 million consumers hit stores and websites. That surpasses last year’s 196.7 million and far exceeds the NRF’s prediction of 182 million shoppers.

“We attribute that turnout to a number of factors certainly,” said NRF President and CEO, Matthew Shay. “It speaks to the way consumers are feeling, but also the deals that were out there and the opportunities that retailers provided on goods, on items, on gifts that consumers wanted. The weather was favorable for much of the country. The timing worked, generally speaking, very well. We weren’t quite as far into the holiday shopping season for many consumers.”

The NRF report, prepared with assistance from Prosper Insights and Analytics, broke down how consumers utilized online shopping, compared to brick-and-mortar stores.

Online shopping led the way with 134.2 million consumers logging in from desktop computers and laptops or on mobile devices. That’s higher than the 130.2 million from a year ago. Stores had foot traffic from 121.4 million people patronizing their locations to browse and shop.

A newcomer joined the list of the top five items consumers purchased. Beauty and personal care items accounted for 23% of sales.

“But the most popular items were clothing accessories at 49%, toys at 31%, gift cards at 25%, books, video games, and other media at 23%,” explained Phil Rist, Executive Vice President of Strategic Initiatives for Prosper Insights and Analytics.

He said the most popular shopping destinations were online (44%), grocery stores and supermarkets (42%), department stores (40%), clothing and accessories stores (36%) and electronics stores (29%).

“Most consumers indicated that their purchases were specifically driven by sales and promotions, a third of the consumers said a limited-time sale or promotion convinced them to make a purchase they were hesitant about,” Rist added. “Free Shipping continues to be the biggest factor that convinces consumers who are hesitant about making a purchase.”

The first indication the holiday shopping season could be robust came in a government report that showed a surge in consumer spending. The U.S. government said consumer spending rose by 0.4% in September, adjusted for inflation.

The sign of consumer confidence was reflected in the amounts spent over the five-day Thanksgiving period. An estimated 95% of weekend shoppers made holiday-related purchases, spending an average of $321.41, consistent with $325.44 last year.

“The takeaway for us is that we continue to expect a healthy, strong holiday season, that consumers are spending and think they’re finding great opportunities and deals,” reported the NRF’s Shay. “According to the self-reporting, holiday shoppers still have about half of their holiday shopping left remaining between now and the end of the year. And I think it’s fair to expect, based on what they’ve told us, they’re going to continue to look for promotions and bargains and opportunities that help them stretch the family budget.”

Shay said NRF remains confident retailers will continue to see record spending with an inflation-adjusted growth between 3% and 4%.

More information about NRF’s holiday shopping predictions is available at: https://nrf.com/research-insights/holiday-data-and-trends/winter-holidays/winter-holiday-faqs.

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