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Exceptionally strong start for holiday sales

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WASHINGTON — Between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday, retailers hosted about 165 million shoppers in their stores and on the websites, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

The survey found average spending per person over the five-day period was $313.29, with 69% of the money going specifically toward gifts.

“What I heard in discussions with retail CEOs across all categories and segments was very positive, driven by macro conditions of low unemployment and rising wages combined with the right mix of merchandise at great prices,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and chief executive officer. “This is a very strong emotional start to the holiday season and a positive indicator of where we are headed over the next month.”

The most popular day to shop online was Cyber Monday, cited by 67.4 million shoppers, followed by Black Friday with 65.2 million shoppers. The most popular day for in-store shopping was Black Friday, with more than 67 million shoppers, followed by Small Business Saturday, with 47.4 million shoppers, according to NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

Top shopping destinations were department stores (42%), online retailers (38%), apparel stores (30%), grocery stores (30%), discount stores (29%) and electronics stores (27%).

By category, the leader was apparel, bought by 57% of shoppers. About a third bought toys, 29% purchased either books or video games, 26% purchased consumer electronics, and 20% bought gift cards, according to the survey of 3,058 consumers about their shopping plans for Thanksgiving weekend and Cyber Monday.

NRF and other prognosticators went into Thanksgiving expecting this holiday shopping season to be one of the best since the recession, thanks to a growing economy, relatively low gasoline prices and a rise in median wages.

Pre-Black Friday sales started earlier this year, but most deals did not feature significant price markdowns, said Taylor Schrein­er, director of Adobe Digital Insights. For the first time, according to Adobe, online prices on Thanksgiving Day were as low as on Black Friday, potentially keeping some Black Friday shoppers away from brick-and-mortar stores. There were reports that Black Friday traffic at many shopping malls was lighter than in past years. Instead, more consumers turned to their phones or desktop computers to grab bargains, according to Adobe, which said Black Friday pulled in $6.22 billion in online sales, up 23.6% from a year ago and a new high. The firm tracks transactions for 80 of the nation’s top 100 internet retailers, including Amazon and Walmart.

Amazon saw its biggest shopping day in history on Cyber Monday. Target, which added about 500 square feet of space for toys across 500 stores, was rewarded. Walmart also benefited from the absence of Toys ‘R’ Us, as well as from a revamped website and an improved online shopping ­experience.


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