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174 million Americans turn up in stores and online over holiday weekend

  • More than 174 million Americans shopped in stores and online during the holiday weekend, topping a prior forecast of 164 million shoppers, NRF said.
  • From Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, the average shopper spent $335.47, in line with NRF's estimates.
  • The industry trade group still is predicting holiday retail sales will increase as much as 4 percent this year.
People enter Macy's Herald Square as the store opens its doors at 8 pm Thanksgiving day on November 28, 2013 in New York City.
Getty Images
People enter Macy's Herald Square as the store opens its doors at 8 pm Thanksgiving day on November 28, 2013 in New York City.

The holiday shopping season is here, and consumers are turning up for deep discounts in full force.

More than 174 million Americans shopped in stores and online during the holiday weekend, topping a prior forecast of 164 million, the National Retail Federation revealed Tuesday.

"All the fundamentals were in place for consumers to take advantage of incredible deals and promotions retailers had to offer," NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.

"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," Shay added.

The industry trade group has been predicting that retail sales — excluding automobiles, gasoline and restaurants — through November and December will increase as much as 4 percent this year, reaching up to $682 billion.

NRF reaffirmed that outlook Tuesday. Shay said on a call with members of the media that he doesn't anticipate anything above 4 percent, adding the NRF cautiously "doesn't draw straight lines from this weekend to the [overall] holiday season."

In 2016, holiday sales reached $655.8 billion. Should NRF's forecast for 2017 hold, retailers will post another year of steady growth. The last drop was in 2008, at the onset of the Great Recession, when retail sales tumbled 4.6 percent.

"We are certainly encouraged that we are starting off from a position of strength," Shay told members of the media.

Over the holiday weekend, shoppers said they headed to department stores (43 percent) and shopped online (42 percent). Other popular destinations were electronics stores (32 percent) and discount stores (31 percent), according to NRF's survey of roughly 3,200 consumers.

The survey further found that more than 64 million people shopped online and in stores, making use of both platforms through Cyber Monday. Meantime, more than 58 million people shopped only online, and over 51 million individuals just stuck to stores, NRF said.

From Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, the average shopper spent $335.47, with $250.78, or 75 percent, going toward "gifts." The biggest spenders of the weekend were millennials, ages 25 to 34, who spent $419.52 on average, according to NRF.

Last year, NRF's Thanksgiving weekend survey didn't include Cyber Monday sales, making the two non-comparable.

"Younger consumers (those under 34) are still savvy when it comes to online shopping and leveraged their smartphones the most to browse for the best deals from some of their favorite retailers," Phil Rist, executive vice president of strategy for Prosper Insights & Analytics, said in a statement. Prosper conducted the survey with NRF.

A separate report by Adobe Insights found that $6.59 billion was spent online on Cyber Monday, with mobile devices ringing up a record $2 billion in sales in one day. That made Monday the biggest online shopping day in U.S. history.

Meanwhile, a record $5.03 billion was spent online during Black Friday, an increase of 17 percent when compared with last year, according to Adobe. The firm measures 80 percent of online transactions from 100 major U.S. retailers.

Top-selling items online over the weekend included the Nintendo Switch, Hatchimals, L.O.L. Surprise and ride-on cars for kids, Adobe said.

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