December 3, 2019

Shoppers blend online and in-store spending due to short holiday season, NRF says

With consumers in rush to buy, Black Friday eclipses Cyber Monday by number of online shoppers for first time, survey shows.

By DC Velocity Staff

In an effort to fit their holiday purchases into a calendar with six fewer shopping days than last year, U.S. consumers boosted their shopping activity from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday this year, notching increases over 2018 statistics in both the number of shoppers and the amount they spent, according to research from the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

By headcount, a record 189.6 million U.S. consumers shopped in the five days from Thanksgiving Day on Nov. 28 through Cyber Monday on Dec. 2 for an increase of 14% over last year's 165.8 million. Of that total, 142.2 million shopped on retailers' websites, 124 million people shopped in stores, and 75.7 million did both.

The rush to purchase presents even shifted the peak online shopping day from Cyber Monday to Black Friday. Listed by calendar date, the volume of online shoppers was:

  • Black Friday, 93.2 million shoppers
  • Cyber Monday, 83.3 million
  • Saturday, 58.2 million
  • Thanksgiving Day 49.7 million, and 
  • Sunday at 43.1 million.

And counting by their budgets, those shoppers spent an average $361.90 on holiday items, up 16% from the $313.29 spent during the same period last year. Tracking spending by channel, consumers who shopped in both online and brick and mortar channels spent an average $366.79, spending at least 25% more than those who shopped in only one or the other.

There was also a large variation in shopping activity when charting in-store shopping by date, beginning with the busiest:

  • Black Friday had the most in-store activity, with 84.2 million shoppers, 
  • Small Business Saturday had 59.9 million,
  • Thanksgiving Day had 37.8 million,
  • Sunday had 29.2 million, and 
  • Cyber Monday had 21.8 million.

"Whether they're looking for something unique on Main Street, making a trip to the store or searching for the best deals from their mobile device, this is when shoppers shift into high gear," NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a release. "With the condensed holiday season, consumers are feeling the pressure to get their shopping done in time. Even those who typically wait until the last minute to purchase gifts turned out in record numbers all weekend long."

The survey of 6,746 adult consumers was conducted Wed. Nov. 27 through Mon. Dec. 2 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points. Overall spending for the Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 holiday season is forecast to total between $727.9 and $730.7 billion, with consumers expect to spend an average $1,047.83 for an increase of 4% over last year, NRF said.

NRF's statistics comply with a recent forecast by logistics and delivery giant FedEx Corp., which predicted on Nov. 21 that it would see record package volume on Cyber Monday, Dec. 2, moving more than 33 million packages through its global network on that day alone.

The company also said that it expects to more than double its average daily package volume on the two Mondays that follow. Those Monday spikes are attributed to weekend online shopping, resulting in orders hitting retailers' shipping cycles early in the week, and driving strong demand for residential delivery, FedEx said.

"E-commerce continues to grow, and FedEx is ready to deliver this holiday and beyond," Brie Carere, FedEx' executive vice president, chief marketing and communications officer, said in a release. "We recognized early on that e-commerce would transform the way our customers shop and ship, and we have invested in a world-class network that flexes to meet volume demands throughout the year."

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