A record 196.7 million Americans shopped online and in person during the five days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, according to data released by the National Retail Federation, shattering the trade association’s initial projection of 166.3 million shoppers during the first weekend of the holiday season.
“The Thanksgiving holiday shopping weekend is a tradition treasured by many American families,” National Retail Federation CEO Matthew Shay remarked in a press release. “As inflationary pressures persist, consumers have responded by stretching their dollars in any way possible. Retailers have responded accordingly, offering shoppers a season of buying convenience, matching sales and promotions across online and in-store channels to accommodate their customers at each interaction.”
The typical consumer spent $325.44 on holiday-related purchases throughout the weekend, most of which was spent on gifts, exceeding the $301.27 average recorded last year. Americans were most likely to shop online or visit a department store.
Shay said during a press call attended by The Daily Wire that many households have generally been “a bit more cautious” with their expenditures, although they continue to spend on necessities. Some families are “taking on additional debt” and “tapping into savings” to meet monthly expenses and cover additional spending during the holiday season. He noted that overall retail sales have increased every month since May 2020, implying that the sector has “incredible resilience” despite multiple economic constraints.
A similar report from Adobe Analytics found that households are projected to spend $210 billion this season, exceeding the $205 billion spent in 2021 and the $188 billion spent in 2020. Companies earned $9.1 billion this year on Black Friday alone.
Shay also expressed concern at the beginning of the call over a pending rail strike that could cripple supply chain operations ahead of the holidays. “Any slowdown, stoppage, or delay in rail transit of goods and people in this country would be devastating for our economy and for American households,” Shay continued. “We certainly encourage Congress… to move quickly to remove this uncertainty so we can all move on without this hanging over our heads as we get into the last few weeks of the year.”
Hundreds of business associations recently asked leaders of both major parties to intervene ahead of the holidays. President Joe Biden likewise demanded that Congress immediately move to “avert a potentially crippling national rail shutdown” in a Monday statement. “At this critical moment for our economy, in the holiday season, we cannot let our strongly held conviction for better outcomes for workers deny workers the benefits of the bargain they reached, and hurl this nation into a devastating rail freight shutdown,” he remarked.
SMART Transportation Division, a union representing rail conductors, announced last week that members rejected the tentative agreement, which would produce the largest wage hike for the industry in four decades. Freight rail accounts for 40% of long-distance shipping volume, according to a report from the Retail Industry Leaders Association, including products such as chemicals used to treat wastewater and ethanol used as a component in gasoline.