The holiday shopping season kicked off last week and is on track for a 3.7% increase this year. A strong turnout during Black Friday, Thanksgiving weekend and increased online sales boosted performance, according to the National Retail Federation.
While the industry group’s poll did not estimate the total sales for the extended weekend, its broad conclusions show that while in-store shopping was relatively left unchanged from last year, online shopping has seen a significant increase. Online sales put total sales ahead of last year.
Matt Shay, NRF CEO, stated that cheap gas and low unemployment have improved consumer sentiment. He also noted that many of the retail executives he had spoken with were very pleased with the weekend’s performance.
Retailers like JCPenney Co. Inc. (JCP), T.J. Maxx, Toys R Us Inc. and Ross Stores Inc. (ROST) performed well. On average, people bought more items and paid less for them. Experts project that weekend sales would be 2% higher than last year as more shoppers purchased online.
The NRF survey of 4,281 customers showed that shoppers spent about $300 over the 4-day weekend. The survey also found that 151 million people would be shopping in stores online over the holiday weekend, which beat its own forecast by 11%. Online and physical in-store purchases were about equal.