A customer searches for shoe products inside a Macy’s store during Black Friday sales on November 25, 2022 in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Kena Betancur | Getty Images
A record number of holiday shoppers – 196.7 million – turned out from Thanksgiving Day to Cyber Monday, as they flocked back to stores and hunted for deals, according to the National Retail Federation, which tracks the figure for in-person and online shopping.
The industry group said Tuesday that the figure topped the turnout of 179 million during last year’s holiday weekend. The NRF, which began tracking the figure in 2017, had forecast a turnout of 166.3 million for this year.
The group did not estimate spending over the weekend, but said sales remain on track to meet its forecast of 6% to 8% growth in holiday sales from a year ago. Some of that increase will come from inflation.
Figures from Adobe Analytics showed that online spending hit record highs on key days during the holiday shopping weekend. Black Friday sales hit $9.12 billion and Cyber Monday sales hit $11.3 billion, according to the company, which tracks sales on retailers’ websites.
But the higher sales total and bigger turnout of holiday shoppers could be a result of a variety of factors. It could indicate that consumers are willing to buy − but only if items are on deep discount. It could also signal a return to the pre-pandemic timetable of holiday shopping, with people concentrating their gift-buying around Black Friday and in the final sprint before Christmas Day.
Or it could portend a more challenging 2023. If Americans are funding shopping spree by slashing savings rates and tallying up big balances on credit cards or through ‘Buy Now Pay Later,’ that could leave them with less to spend in the months ahead.
Retailers have given a more cautious holiday outlook. Walmart has spoken about customers skipping over discretionary items and trading down to cheaper proteins like hot dogs and peanut butter. Target cut its forecast for the holiday quarter. And Best Buy said customers have had a higher interest in shopping during sales events.
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.