For the second consecutive year, fewer shoppers opened their wallets on the four-day holiday shopping weekend following Thanksgiving.
This year, about 180 million Americans made purchases in stores or online over the Black Friday weekend, compared with 186.4 million in 2020 and 189.6 in 2019, the National Retail Federation (NRF) reported.
Many shoppers had made their holiday purchases earlier, analysts said, and fewer and smaller discounts over the traditional opening of the holiday shopping season gave consumers fewer reasons to spend.
On Cyber Monday, which abuts the Thanksgiving weekend and emphasizes online buying, consumers spent $11.3 billion, 3 percent more than last year and edging past analysts’ expectations of $11 billion, according to software maker Salesforce.
Some estimates show online retail sales over the four-day weekend declined from 2020, which would be the first slip in several years.
Shoppers spent $33.9 billion during the period, 1.4 percent less than last year, according to figures from the Adobe Digital Economy Index.
About 104.9 million shoppers visited brick-and-mortar stores over the long weekend, almost 14 percent more than in 2020; in contrast, online shoppers were fewer this year, down 12 percent to 127.8 million, according to NRF.
Some analysts had predicted that traffic in physical stores would rise this season as shoppers feared that items ordered online would not be delivered in time for the holidays.
TREND FORECAST: Yes, many shoppers had made holiday purchases earlier than usual to ensure that their choices would be available in time.
However, shoppers also spent less on the designated shop-til-you-drop weekend for two other reasons.
First, prices are up and, in many cases, selections are fewer. With an economy still wobbling through a recovery, households are more cautious in their spending.
Second, as we reported in “More Lower-Income Americans Will Skip Holiday Shopping This Year” (26 Oct 2021), the millions of Americans still jobless—about 3.9 million, according to the U.S. labor department—lack the money to buy gifts this year.
Therefore, the combination of unemployment and economic uncertainty will remain a drag on the U.S. economic recovery. What will reverse the trend is when the government officially announces the end of the COVID War.