Record number of shoppers hit stores on Thanksgiving weekend, over $59 billion spent

Having worked a few Thanksgiving weekends in retail, I’ve remained traumatized enough to avoid shopping on Black Friday or any point on the holiday weekend ever since. I’m in a distinct minority, though, and an even smaller one this year. The National Retail Federation estimates that American consumers made 247 million shopping excursions in the last four days, combining on-line and in-store visits, and generated over $59 billion in sales:

As the BBC reports, the average per-visit spending total rose too, although not quite as much:

A record 247 million people visited stores and websites between Thursday and Sunday and spent a total of $59.1bn (£36.9bn), 13% more than last year, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said.

The average shopper spent $423 over the weekend, up from $398 last year.

Surveys suggest Americans also plan to spend big on so-called “Cyber Monday”.

“Millions of Americans found time this Thanksgiving to make the most of retailers’ promotions and enjoy a special family holiday,” said NRF chief executive Matthew Shay.

That’s a 6.3% increase in per-shopper spending, significant in itself but also demonstrating that the growth was broader rather than deeper.  The biggest jump came on line, though, which exceeded a billion dollars on Friday for the first time, an increase of 25%.  Thanksgiving Day sales, while most brick-and-mortar stores were closed, rose a third over last year, according to  They expect sales for “Cyber Monday” today to go over $1.5 billion, which would be a 20% increase over last year.

Retailers of all stripes better enjoy it while they can.  The NRF tells the BBC that they expect a 4.1% increase in overall sales this year, which would be weaker than last year’s 5.6%, and that this burst may end up taking demand from later in the holiday season.  Thanks to heavy discounting, that might end up costing retailers margin on those sales. If consumers fail to see a resolution of the tax dispute in Washington as Christmas approaches, they may start thinking more like Grinches than Santa Clauses, too.