Thanksgiving Weekend Sees Record Consumer Traffic And Spending

A struggling economy and Thanksgiving festivities did not keep Americans from flocking to stores, both physically and virtually, this weekend, as the National Retail Federation (NRF) reported that on Thanksgiving Day alone, more than 35 million Americans visited retailers’ stores and websites, up from 29 million last year.

This increase in traffic and spending continued through the weekend and is expected to continue on into today,  “Cyber Monday,” as 129.2 million shoppers are anticipated to log on and take advantage of online sales, according to a survey conducted for by BIGinsight. This marks the second consecutive year that the number of Cyber Monday shoppers has increased, up from 122.8 million in 2011 and 106.9 million in 2010.

"Whether from the couch or the cubicle, online shoppers will make this Cyber Monday bigger than ever," said Executive Director, Vicki Cantrell. "Retailers have honed and improved their websites, mobile sites and social media outreach to be better than ever and consumers know that come Cyber Monday, many retailers will have a slew of new promotions to help them make a real dent in their holiday shopping lists, without breaking the bank or even having to head to the store.”

Heavy traffic and spending on Black Friday set the tone for the post Thanksgiving weekend. According to an NRF survey, also conducted by BIGinsight, 89 million people braced themselves for long lines and braved the crowds to shop on Black Friday, up from 86 million last year. Shoppers did not call it quits after Black Friday, as a record 247 million people hit the stores and the internet over the weekend to make for a total estimated spending of $59.1 billion.

“From green beans to great deals, millions of Americans found time this Thanksgiving to make the most of retailers' promotions and enjoy a special family holiday," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. "To keep their customers excited about holiday shopping, retailers will continue to offer attractive promotions through December, and provide strong consumer value with low prices, enhanced mobile and online offerings, and unique product assortment."

While a significant number of consumers took to the stores to browse the aisles, much of the Thanksgiving Day and weekend shopping was done online. The NRF survey reported that the average shopper spent $172.42, approximately 40.7 percent of their total weekend spending, online shopping.

"There's no question that millions of people were drawn to retailers' aggressive online promotions this weekend, making sure to research and compare prices days in advance to ensure they were getting the best deal they could," said BIGinsight Consumer Insights Director Pam Goodfellow.

The long weekend may be over, but the post Thanksgiving shopping shows no signs of slowing today, as the number of shoppers planning to use their smart phones or other mobile devices to take advantage of Cyber Monday deals increased this year to 20.4 million, up from 17.8 million in 2011, according to the NRF. In just three years, the number of Americans saying they would use their mobile device to shop on Cyber Monday has skyrocketed from just 3.6 million, or 3.8 percent, in 2009 to 20.4 million, or 15.8 percent, in 2012.

Cyber Monday shoppers are not limited to browsing online deals on their mobile devices, as the NRF reports that a majority of online consumers, approximately 113.7 million people, will make purchases from their home computers. But, don’t feel too bad if you find yourself straying from work today to shop online; Nearly 16 million people are anticipated to also use their computers at work to shop.

"The momentum from a solid Black Friday weekend certainly looks like it will carry on into Cyber Monday," said BIGinsight Consumer Insights Director, Pam Goodfellow. "Millions of shoppers will be visiting retailers' websites from their smartphones, tablets, home computers and work computers to check out special Cyber Monday promotions and make the most of their holiday shopping budgets."

Stay tuned for an in-depth report on the impacts of the holiday weekend on action sports retailers and brands.