Luxury Roundtable


Mood of US shopper is chipper as Thanksgiving holiday weekend draws record numbers

November 28, 2023

The National Retail Federation is quite bullish on U.S. consumer spend this holiday season, regardless of geopolitical events or overall economic trends. Image: National Retail Federation The National Retail Federation is quite bullish on U.S. consumer spend this holiday season, regardless of geopolitical events or overall economic trends. Image: National Retail Federation


While not entirely indicative of luxury spending, Thanksgiving holiday weekend numbers are a strong indicator of the mood of U.S. shoppers. And they seem to be happy spreading the love.

A record 200.4 million consumers shopped over the five-day holiday weekend from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, surpassing last year’s record of 196.7 million, according to the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. The figures surpassed NRF’s initial expectations of 182 million shoppers by more than 18 million.

“The five-day period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday represents some of the busiest shopping days of the year and reflects the continued resilience of consumers and strength of the economy,” said NRF president/CEO Matthew Shay in a statement.

“Shoppers exceeded our expectations with a robust turnout,” he said. “Retailers large and small were prepared to deliver safe, convenient and affordable shopping experiences with the products and services consumers needed, and at great prices.”

NRF defines the holiday season as Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 and has forecast that holiday spending is expected to reach record levels and will grow between 3 percent and 4 percent, totaling $957.3 billion to $966.6 billion.

The survey of 3,498 adult consumers was conducted Nov. 22-26 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.7 percentage points.

Ecommerce is bright spot
Consumers used both online and in-store channels throughout the weekend, with 121.4 million people visiting physical retail locations to browse items and make in-store purchases. This figure is consistent with 122.7 million in 2022, NRF said.

Online shoppers totaled 134.2 million, up from 130.2 million last year.

Black Friday continued its streak as the most popular day for in-store shopping, with 76.2 million shoppers opting to visit bricks-and-mortar locations, up from 72.9 million in 2022.

About 59 million consumers shopped in stores on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, down from 63.4 million last year. On par with last year, 78 percent of Saturday shoppers shopped specifically for Small Business Saturday.

Continuing the trend that started in 2019, Black Friday was also the most popular day for online shopping, NRF said.

Roughly 90.6 million consumers shopped online on Black Friday, up from 87.2 million in 2022.

By comparison, approximately 73 million consumers shopped online on Cyber Monday, down slightly from 77 million last year.

Consistent with last year, about 44 million consumers used their home desktop or laptop to shop online on Cyber Monday.

Another 40.5 million shopped online using their mobile devices, down from a record 45.7 million in 2022 but still well above pre-pandemic levels.

The top destinations for Thanksgiving weekend shoppers were online (44 percent), grocery stores and supermarkets (42 percent), department stores (40 percent), clothing and accessories stores (36 percent) and electronics stores (29 percent).

The vast majority (95 percent) of Thanksgiving weekend shoppers made holiday-related purchases during the event, down from 97 percent last year, but in line with historical levels, NRF said.

Consumers spent $321.41, on average, on these types of items, consistent with $325.44 last year. Approximately 70 percent ($226.55) was spent specifically on gifts.

The wrap
The top gifts shoppers purchased during the five-day period were clothing and accessories (bought by 49 percent of those surveyed), toys (31 percent), gift cards (25 percent), books, video games and other media (23 percent), and personal care or beauty items (23 percent).

“Over the course of the weekend, consumers were able to find great deals on holiday gifts and other items they wanted,” Prosper executive vice president of strategy Phil Rist said in a statement.

“This year is the first time personal care and beauty items were among the top five most popular gifts purchased over Thanksgiving weekend, with nearly one-quarter of shoppers purchasing these items,” he said.

Consumers reported that on average, 55 percent of their Thanksgiving weekend purchases were specifically driven by sales and promotions, up from 52 percent in 2022.

Another 31 percent said a limited-time sale or promotion convinced them to make a purchase they were hesitant about, up from 29 percent last year.

RETAILERS HAVE continued to respond to earlier holiday demand with sales and promotions throughout the season.

A little over half of consumers (55 percent) took advantage of early holiday sales and promotions. About one-third (35 percent) shopped specifically in the week leading up to Thanksgiving (Nov. 16-22).

Similar to last year, as of Thanksgiving weekend, the majority (85 percent) of consumers had started holiday shopping and were about halfway (48 percent) done so far.