Over 200 million shoppers engaged in online and in-store transactions over the Thanksgiving holiday shopping weekend, a 0.4% uptick compared to 2022. The weekend saw a dual-channel approach, as 134.3 million individuals visited physical retail destinations, a decline of .02% from the 2022 figure of 134.4 million. Despite the negligible decrease in in-store visits this year, enthusiastic shoppers still flocked to retail locations in such numbers that it resulted in three-hour traffic delays in major metropolitan areas like Boston.
E-commerce was the real winner of the weekend, experiencing a 2.1% increase year-over-year, with 127.0 million online shoppers. Substantial markdowns on a wide array of items lured U.S. shoppers into a spree, with approximately $38 billion spent online over the holiday shopping weekend. Online consumer spending jumped 7.8% during the five days from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, outpacing initial expectations for a 5.4% rise. This surge in online consumer spending suggests a robust start to the holiday shopping season despite prevailing economic uncertainties.
Spending per person during the Thanksgiving holiday shopping weekend averaged $384.83, up 2.6% from $375.12 in 2022, per GlobalData. The average spending during this period was influenced by the desire to obtain discounts on gifts, with 62% of consumers indicating that this was the primary reason for their participation in the Black Friday weekend. Additionally, nearly 40% of consumers thought retailers were more generous with discounts this year compared to 2022.
Retailers are adapting their inventory approaches for the pivotal holiday sales season, streamlining stock levels, and aligning supply chains more closely with consumer preferences. In response to the disruptions caused by the pandemic, supply-chain flexibility has emerged as a crucial factor. Gap, for instance, reported a 22% year-over-year reduction in inventory in the third quarter, coinciding with a 2% drop in comparable sales. Similarly, Macy’s experienced improved gross margins through tighter inventories, with a 6% decrease compared to the previous year and a significant 17% decrease from 2019.
Participation surged by more than three-quarters of a million individuals, reaching a cumulative expenditure of $77.5 billion over the Thanksgiving holiday shopping weekend. Despite substantial e-commerce growth, brick-and-mortar shopping remains the preferred shopping experience by consumers. One in five consumers is anticipated to heavily leverage “buy now, pay later” payment plans during the holiday season, presenting a favorable outlook for retailers. Our projections anticipate an overall holiday spending increase of 3.1% by year-end.