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Both e-commerce and bricks-and-mortar stores appear to be on pace for a record holiday season.

John MacDougall/AFP via Getty Images

Nearly 180 million people shopped between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber


M

onday, trailing behind last year’s figures as consumers spread out their holiday shopping throughout the season, according to the National Retail Federation.

In total, 179.8 million people made online and in-store purchases during the Thanksgiving weekend, exceeding the NRF’s initial expectations by more than 21 million. That figure was 186.4 million in 2020, and 189.6 million in 2019.

Whereas Thanksgiving weekend, especially Black Friday, was once seen as the kickoff for the holiday shopping season, the pandemic and supply chain woes have prompted consumers to start shopping earlier, said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.

“The Thanksgiving weekend, and Black Friday in particular, are closer to half time now than to kick off,” Shay said. Data released separately on customer foot traffic and on online sales indicate that both e-commerce and bricks-and-mortar stores are on pace for a record holiday season.

Approximately 104.9 million shoppers visited bricks-and-mortar stores this year as coronavirus concerns eased, up from 92.3 million in 2020. The overall number of online shoppers declined to 127.8 million from 145.4 million last year.

Based on Tuesday’s figures, the NRF maintained an earlier projection that holiday sales between November and December will grow between 8.5% to 10.5% to a range of $843.4 billion and $859 billion, both online and in-store.

Cyber Monday’s online-only sales dipped 1.4% this year, as consumers spent a total of $10.7 billion, down from $10.8 billion last year, according to data from the


Adobe

Digital Economy Index. Black Friday sales also disappointed, falling to $8.9 billion this year, from $9 billion last year, according to Adobe Digital Insights, which tracked more than 1 million visits to retail websites.

“With early deals in October, consumers were not waiting around for discounts on big shopping days like Cyber Monday and Black Friday,” said Taylor Schreiner, Adobe Digital Insights director. “This was further fueled by growing awareness of supply chain challenges and product availability.”

The prevalence of out-of-stock messages is up 169% compared with prepandemic levels, and up 258% compared with two holiday seasons ago, Adobe found.

Regardless, Schreiner believes that Monday’s e-commerce data still puts retailers on track for a record-breaking holiday season. So far, shoppers have spent $109.8 billion online, 11.9% more than last year, according to Adobe.

In-store spending is also expected to grow. Data collected by


Mastercard

Spending Pulse showed in-store spending from Nov. 26 through Nov. 28 increased 1.6% from 2019.

“I think that what you see coming out of the Thanksgiving weekend is a very strong consumer,” said Steve Sadove, a Mastercard senior advisor.

On Monday, President Joe Biden met with the CEOs of major retailers at the White House to discuss global supply-chain bottlenecks.


Walmart

CEO Doug McMillon, who joined the meeting virtually, said that Walmart (ticker:


WMT

) has been successful with shipping because about two-thirds of its products are produced in the U.S. Walmart’s third-quarter earnings showed U.S. same-store sales rose 11.1%, while its e-commerce sales rose 8%.

“For the part that comes outside of North America, it’s been a big issue, but we’ve seen a lot of improvement,” he said. “We will keep working to ensure we are in a good in-stock position heading into the season, but generally speaking we are in pretty good shape.”

Walmart saw a 2.8% increase in visits to its stores since 2019, while


Target

(


TGT

) had a 3.1% decline, according to data compiled by Placer.ai tracking average daily foot traffic from Nov. 1 through the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

Black Friday didn’t hit the highs seen in past years, but it marked a huge increase from the rest of the month. Visits to department store leaders


Nordstrom

(


JWN

), Neiman Marcus,


Macy’s

(M),


Kohl’s

(


KSS

), and


Dillard’s

(


DDS

) were up by more than 200% compared with the daily average in November, the data from Placer.ai showed.

Off-price and beauty retailers also saw significant gains, according to the same data. TJ Maxx saw a 2.9% increase for in-store foot traffic in the two years since 2019.

It’s too early to tell if, or how, the new Omicron variant might affect retailers or their stocks.

“The overall shopping didn’t seem to move as much,” Sadove said of the early pandemic in 2020. “What did happen was that people were flexing themselves where they felt most comfortable, so when you had a hot spot, you saw a higher level of shopping that was being done online versus in a store.”

Write to Logan Moore at logan.moore@barrons.com

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