Thanksgiving Weekend Sales Signal Strong Start to the Holiday Season in the U.S.

Despite concerns, Thanksgiving weekend brought in $38 billion overall in the five days from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday. Learns what the trends were and more.
Jamie Grill-Goodman
Editor in Chief
Jamie goodman
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New York, N.Y., November 24, 2023: Hordes of shoppers throng the Macy's Herald Square flagship store in New York anxious to shop on the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday. Credit: Shutterstock

Despite concerns, Thanksgiving weekend brought in $38 billion overall in the five days from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday.

That amount is up 7.8% year-over-year, according to Adobe Analytics, bolstered by record spending online during Thanksgiving ($5.6 billion, up 5.5% YoY), Black Friday ($9.8 billion, up 7.5% YoY) and over the weekend ($10.3 billion, up 7.7% YoY).  

"The 2023 holiday shopping season began with a lot of uncertainty, as consumers shifted their spending to services, while dealing with rising costs across different facets of their lives,” said Vivek Pandya, lead analyst, Adobe Digital Insights. “The record online spending across Cyber Week however, shows the impact that discounts can have on consumer demand, especially with quality products that drove a lot of impulse shopping.” 

A record 200.4 million consumers shopped over the period, surpassing last year’s record of 196.7 million, according to the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. The figures surpassed NRF’s initial expectations of 182 million shoppers by more than 18 million.

“The five-day period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday represents some of the busiest shopping days of the year and reflects the continued resilience of consumers and strength of the economy,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Shoppers exceeded our expectations with a robust turnout. Retailers large and small were prepared to deliver safe, convenient and affordable shopping experiences with the products and services consumers needed, and at great prices.”

Purchasing Trends

 

Buy Now Pay Later Up 
Adobe Analytics reports sales to be $105.2 billion so far this this season (Nov 1st - Nov 27, 6pm EST, 2023) and noted on Cyber Monday, “Buy Now Pay Later” (BNPL) usage hit an all-time high, up a staggering 42.5% YoY, contributing $940 million in online spend. The number of items per order also rose 11% YoY, as shoppers used BNPL for increasingly larger carts. Season to date, BNPL has driven a total of $8.3 billion, up 17% YoY.

Curbside Pickup Down
Curbside pickup was used in 12.7% of online orders from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday (for retailers that offer the service), down from 14.8% in the year prior, Adobe Analytics reports. In the same time period, 80% of online orders leveraged standard shipping. 

Top Consumer Goods Purchased 
While experiential gifts have been the popular choice the past few years, consumers continue to search for something to unwrap for the holidays with jewelry and apparel being the top gift sectors of U.S. retail sales on Friday, November 24, according to According to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment. 

“Consumers are navigating the holiday season well and taking advantage of holiday promotions, giving them ample choice as they hunt for gifts for everyone on their list,” said Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and Chairman of Saks Incorporated. “Consumers are also shopping smarter, using all of their tools – from searching across channels to cross checking on apps and websites – to maximize value while they spend time with friends and family.”

The top gifts shoppers purchased during the five-day Thanksgiving period were clothing and accessories (bought by 49% of those surveyed), toys (31%), gift cards (25%), books, video games and other media (23%), and personal care or beauty items (23%), according to NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics

“Over the course of the weekend, consumers were able to find great deals on holiday gifts and other items they wanted,” Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said. “This year is the first time personal care and beauty items were among the top five most popular gifts purchased over Thanksgiving weekend, with nearly one-quarter of shoppers purchasing these items.”

Sales Drive Purchases
Consumers reported that on average, 55% of their Thanksgiving weekend purchases were specifically driven by sales and promotions, up from 52% in 2022. Another 31% said a limited-time sale or promotion convinced them to make a purchase they were hesitant about, up from 29% last year.  -NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics

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