American consumers got their holiday shopping off to a strong start. The National Retail Federation recently released its Annual Thanksgiving Weekend Consumer Survey, which found that 196.7 million Americans shopped in-store and online during the five-day holiday shopping period from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday. In addition, the total number of shoppers grew by nearly 17 million from 2021, the highest figure since NRF first started tracking this data in 2017.
The top retail destinations for Thanksgiving weekend shoppers were online (42%), in department stores (42%), grocery stores (40%), clothing and accessories stores (36%), and discount stores (32%). Retailers enjoyed a sizable spike in in-store visits as more than 122.7 million people flocked to brick-and-mortar stores over the weekend, up 17% from 2021.
Consumers spent an average of $325.44 on holiday-related purchases throughout the weekend, up 8% from 2021. The record-breaking spending comes on the heels of an active day of Thanksgiving shopping, in which consumers shelled out an all-time high of $5.29 billion online, up 2.9% year-over-year. Consumers also spent a record $9.12 billion shopping online during Black Friday.
Per Adobe, electronics were ranked as the most popular items, with sales jumping 221% versus an average day in October–followed by toys and exercise equipment, up 285% and 218%, respectively. Some of this season’s hottest items included gaming consoles, drones, Apple MacBooks, Dyson products, and toys like Fortnite, Roblox, Bluey, Funko Pop! and Disney Encanto.
Many consumers embraced flexible payment plans during the holiday shopping weekend as Buy Now Pay Later payments increased by 78% compared with the week prior, beginning November 19. Despite the economic disturbance of record inflation and rising interest rates, the National Retail Federation has forecast that for the entire holiday period, which spans November 1 to December 31, retail sales this year will rise 6% to 8% over 2021 and between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion.