Thanksgiving Weekend Retail Results In: Shoppers Will Have Merry Christmas, Retailers Get Coal – Forbes

(DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)

Americans indulged in one of their favorite pastimes this past Thanksgiving weekend: Shopping. They were in full force gobbling up all the heavily discounted merchandise meant to entice them to the store and onto the internet. The National Retail Federation reported that more than 174 million Americans shopped from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, which beat the association’s pre-holiday prediction that 164 million consumers would indulge.

Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO said, “From good weather across the country to low unemployment and strong consumer confidence, the climate was right, literally and figuratively, for consumers to tackle their holiday shopping lists online and in stores.”

Americans also signaled their shifting preference for the convenience and efficiency of online shopping. One-third of Thanksgiving weekend shoppers participated only online, while just under 40% shopped both in-store and online. Only slightly more than one-fourth of weekend shoppers went to the store exclusively. Nonetheless, traffic in stores was brisk, as some 115 Americans left home to spend time and money in brick-and-mortar retailers.

On average, NRF reported shoppers spent $335 over the five-day weekend with 75% of that devoted to gift purchases. While they caution about drawing direct comparisons with reported results from Thanksgiving weekend 2016 due to changes in survey methodology, reported spending rose 16% this year over last year, which is at least an anecdotal marker of consumers’ greater willingness to spend.

But, and this is a huge but,  some 60% of holiday shoppers said a majority of their weekend purchases were driven primarily by sales. WalletHub analyzed Black Friday deals from 35 of the biggest U.S. retailers and found that jewelry and books, movies and music were the most heavily discounted categories, with retailers offering discounts of 59% and 57% respectively. Apparel and accessories were the next most heavily discounted category, with retailers marking fashion items down nearly 50% in early holiday deals.

It should give retailers pause to think about what such heavy discounting means for their businesses, their brands and their future. Big-data retail analysis firm EDITED, which studies over 650 million products worldwide, found that discounts this year were offered earlier and those discounts were deeper than those last year. Looking at the U.S. online apparel market, some 48% of all merchandise was discounted over the holidays at an average rate of 46% off. This compares with 44% of merchandise offered on sale at an average of only 36% off last year.

And in an unprecedented move, many luxury brands got in on the discounting game as well. EDITED reported nearly one-fourth of luxury handbags were on offer at discounts ranging from 40-50%, up from 30-40% last year. Fendi, Balenciaga, Tom Ford and Prada were the most discounted brands this season.

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