Holiday shopping by the numbers — spending kicks into high gear

'Consumers are feeling the pressure to get their shopping done'

There was no shortage of spending between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

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That’s according to new data from the National Retail Federation, which polled more than 6,700 U.S. shoppers between Nov. 27 and Dec. 2. A record 190 million consumers shopped during that time, an increase of 14 percent compared to last year’s 165 million.

Shoppers spent an average of $362 on holiday items, up 16 percent from last year. And the biggest spenders were between the ages of 25 and 34, dropping an average of $440 over the five-day stretch.

About 124 million people shopped in stores, according to the findings. 142 million shopped online and 75 million did both.

Here’s a deeper look at the numbers:

  • Black Friday was the busiest day for in-store spending, with 84 million shoppers.
  • Small Business Saturday was the second-busiest day in stores, with 60 million.
  • Thanksgiving ranked third with about 38 million.
  • Sunday, Dec. 1 saw 29 million shoppers and Cyber Monday saw 22 million.

This marks the first time Black Friday topped Cyber Monday as the busiest day for online sales, according to the study, with 93 million shoppers versus 83 million.

Free shipping was a big reason shoppers made purchases they were otherwise hesitant about, with nearly 50 percent admitting to doing that. And online ordering and in-store pickup factored into buys shoppers would have otherwise avoided, with 20 percent citing that. Other factors were limited-time sales and easy-to-use websites or apps.

  • Nearly 40 percent of consumers looked to emails from retailers for deals.
  • Smart devices played a role, with 75 percent of shoppers using them to research.

Top gift purchases included apparel, bought by 58 percent of respondents; followed by toys, bought buy 33 percent; electronics, bought buy 31 percent; books, music and video games, which were purchased by 28 percent; and gift cards, bought by 27 percent.

  • Around 50 percent of shoppers visited department stores.
  • Clothing stores ranked second, with 36 percent of holiday traffic.
  • Grocery stores saw 34 percent of shoppers.
  • Electronics stores saw 32 percent of shoppers.
  • And discount stores ranked last, with 29 percent of shoppers.

Thanksgiving weekend shopping continues to start earlier, as 56 percent of shoppers started the first week of November. The NRF defines the holiday season as Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 and forecasts that sales could total more than $730 billion.

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“Americans continue to start their holiday shopping earlier in the year, and Thanksgiving is still a critical weekend for millions ... This is when shoppers shift into high gear,” NRF President and Chief Executive Officer Matthew Shay said in a statement.

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“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.”

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