NEW YORK: Retailers reported Tuesday a solid start to the US holiday shopping season with more than 200 million people hitting stores and online vendors over a key five-day stretch.
The period includes “Black Friday”, the day after the US Thanksgiving holiday, and “Cyber Monday”, both known for heavy promotions designed to entice robust spending on gifts.
“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 Matthew Shay, president of the National Retail Federation (NRF).
The NRF estimated total turnout during the five-day stretch was 200.4 million, up nearly four million from the year-ago level.
Top gift items included clothing and accessories, toys, gift cards and video games, the NRF said.
Consumer goods experts had predicted a decent but unspectacular holiday shopping season, with a still-strong labour market offset somewhat by consumer inflation that has moderated in recent months.
“There’s no question that there’s been some moderation and deceleration in consumption relative to the last 36 months,” Shay said on a briefing with reporters.
He noted that the NRF’s projected growth of between three percent and four percent in 2023 is consistent with pre-pandemic levels.
“In general, we still see strength and running room and resilience for consumers and expect that to play out for the rest of the holiday season,” he said.
NRF estimated that 73 million consumers made purchases on Cyber Monday, slightly below the 77 million last year.
But Adobe Analytics said total spending on the digital-focused day was higher by nearly 10% at US$12.4 billion, with consumers spending US$15.7 million every minute.
“The 2023 holiday shopping season began with a lot of uncertainty,” said Vivek Pandya, lead analyst at Adobe Digital Insights.
“The record online spending across Cyber Week however, shows the impact that discounts can have on consumer demand, especially with quality products that drove a lot of impulse shopping,” Pandya added.
Retail expert Neil Saunders of GlobalData said the industry should be “fairly satisfied” with the selling figures over the holiday weekend, but that “the jury is out” on the overall season, which the critical December period still ahead.