NRF Reports Record Thanksgiving Shopping Weekend
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Thanksgiving weekend shoppers surpassed their record turnout from last year, marking a strong unofficial start to the holiday shopping season.
National Retail Federation reported Nov. 28 that a record 200.4 million consumers shopped over the five-day holiday weekend from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday. The previous record was 196.7 million in 2022. NRF initially had expected 182 million shoppers.
“Heading into the five-day weekend, we had big expectations based on what consumers had told us,” NRF President Matthew Shay said during a media call. “We thought we’d have a big weekend, and we did. We had a very big weekend. This was a major holiday, a record setter. We had more than 200 million consumers shopping on the five-day period.”
NRF has forecast that holiday spending will reach record levels by growing between 3% and 4% to between $957.3 billion and $966.6 billion. Shay sees the weekend shopping results as being consistent with those expectations.
“We think the incredibly large number of shoppers out there this weekend is very consistent with that forecast and correlates very favorably to what we anticipated,” Shay said, “which is continued strength in the consumer sector of the economy matched by great opportunities delivered by retailers.”
NRF also found that 95% of shoppers made holiday-related purchases during the weekend. The figure fell in line with historical levels but was down from 97% last year. Consumers spent $321.41 on average on holiday-related purchases, with gifts specifically running an average of $226.55.
“Black Friday continues to be the most popular day for shoppers, both in-store and online,” Shay said. “For the first time ever, personal care and beauty items made the list of top gifts that were purchased. Those categories are fairly consistent year-to-year. Clothing and accessories are always very high at the top, toys very high, gift cards, books, video games, other media and, in this case, personal care and beauty items.”
The holiday shopping season has officially kicked off! @NRFnews President & CEO Matt Shay joins to break down the numbers from this past holiday weekend, which signal a resilient consumer. pic.twitter.com/TRVjFaQZ0F — Squawk on the Street (@SquawkStreet) November 28, 2023
NRF also noted in the report that 55% of consumers said their purchases were specifically driven by sales and promotions, up from 52% last year. It also noted that another 31% said a limited-time sale or promotion persuaded them to make a purchase they were hesitant about, up from 29% last year.
“The takeaway for us is that we continue to expect a healthy and strong holiday season,” Shay said. “Consumers are spending, and I think they’re finding great opportunities and deals. According to the self-reporting, holiday shoppers still have about half of their holiday shopping left remaining between now and the end of the year and I think it’s fair to expect, based on what they’ve told us, they’re going to continue to look for promotions and bargains and opportunities.”
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FTR Transportation Intelligence and Truckstop reported that spot market demand fell 44.4% during the week ending Nov. 24. The supply of trucks also fell 18.8%. But spot rates increased 0.5% with dry van equipment finally exhibiting expected seasonal strength during the week. Broker-posted dry van rates rose by the most in a week since May. These gains were offset some by refrigerated spot rates falling by about the same amount as dry van rates rose.
“Moreover, the decrease followed the essentially flat rates during the week before Thanksgiving, which is a week that normally sees higher refrigerated spot rates,” Truckstop said in a statement. “The modest increase in flatbed rates reduced the deficit versus the five-year average to 1.6%, which is the closest comparison since early June.”
Truckstop noted its market demand index fell to 33 points with the drop in truck postings not matching the plunge in load postings during the holiday week. This is marginally below the demand index figure during the Thanksgiving week last year and the lowest since May 2020.
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