- The number of shoppers either online or in-store between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday declined for the second year in a row this year, down from 186.4 million last year to 179.8 million, according to a new report from the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. The top gift categories among this year's shoppers were clothing and accessories (51%), toys (32%), gift cards and certificates (28%), entertainment (27%) and electronics (24%).
- Nearly half (49%) of survey respondents said they made some holiday purchases before Thanksgiving this year, and the majority (82%) of survey respondents said they perceived this year's deals to be the same or better than last year, according to the announcement.
- Consumers spent $301.27 on holiday purchases this year, down from $311.75 last year. NRF reiterated its forecast that holiday sales will increase between 8.5% and 10.5% from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31 compared to 2020.
The NRF's 2021 findings illustrate how the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the holiday season, with retailers trying to spread out purchases to account for crowds and, this year, supply chain disasters. Shoppers over the Thanksgiving weekend last year already declined compared to 2019, and shoppers spent less as well that year. In 2020, 186.4 million people shopped the weekend, down from 189.6 million in 2019, though still above 2018 levels.
NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay attributed the fewer shoppers and spending to consumers moving their purchases earlier in the holiday season, a trend that likely isn't going away anytime soon.
"Retailers have adapted and enticed customers with a number of incentives throughout November. The Thanksgiving holiday weekend remains a significant time for friends and families to check specific holiday items off their lists," Shay said in a statement. "Over the last few years consumers have shifted their holiday shopping plans to start earlier in the season."
And though consumers may not have noticed the lackluster discounts available during this year's holiday shopping weekend, research suggests that some retailers' holiday deals declined compared to last year. A Salesforce report noted that the average discount was 27%, a 7% decline from 2020. Research from Kearney found that Nordstrom and Foot Locker in particular weren't as promotional this year, while Macy's, Gap, and Madewell offered shoppers more robust savings.
The results for Cyber Monday appear to be mixed. Adobe Analytics found that Cyber Monday sales declined by 1.4% to $10.7 billion compared to last year, but Mastercard and Salesforce saw increases for the online shopping day.