US Thanksgiving weekend sales hit record on big discounts, online boost


FILE PHOTO: Shoppers crowd a Walmart store ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. November 27, 2019. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski/File Photo

(Reuters) -Deep discounts on everything from beauty products and toys to electronics during the Thanksgiving weekend enticed U.S. shoppers to splurge about $38 billion online, signaling a strong holiday shopping season even as economic uncertainty swirled.

Online consumer spending jumped 7.8% during Cyber Week, or the five days from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, according to data from Adobe Analytics, outstripping initial expectations for a  5.4% rise.

In the lead-up to the crucial shopping season, industry forecasters including Deloitte and retailers like Walmart and Macy's warned of cautious consumer spending due to sticky inflation constraining budgets. But blockbuster deals helped spread the holiday cheer for bargain-hunters.

More than 200 million shoppers made purchases both in-store and online during the Thanksgiving weekend, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said on Tuesday, representing a near 2% increase from last year and surpassing the trade association's estimates of 182 million.

Still, with about half of Americans' holiday shopping left untapped, the NRF stuck to its forecast for 3%-4% retail sales growth during the full November-December holiday season, saying consumers will continue to look for big promotions and bargains.

On an average, consumers spent $321.41 on holiday-related purchases including toys, electronics and gift cards during the Thanksgiving weekend, compared with $325.44 last year, the NRF data showed.

Discounts as steep as 31% on electronics and 27% on toys and the ease of making last-minute purchases from the comfort of people's homes have given online sales an edge over in-store shopping.

Online shoppers rose 3.1% to 134.2 million during the Thanksgiving weekend, making up for a slight dip in the number of customers who visited brick-and-mortar stores. The period saw about 121.4 million in-store shoppers, down from 122.7 million in 2022, according to the retail body.

'BUY NOW, PAY LATER' DRIVES BIG SPENDING ONLINE

In a bid to stretch their Christmas budgets, shoppers are also leaning on Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) services such as Klarna or Affirm to avoid the extra fees and interest that come with credit card payments.

A record $940 million worth of purchases were made through BNPL on Cyber Monday, surging 42.5% from last year and trouncing Adobe's earlier estimate for an 18.8% jump, as consumers took advantage of the flexible payment option.

Payments firm Block noted BNPL transactions through Afterpay surged 19% over the weekend, adding that online shopping cart sizes were 3.9 times bigger than in-person shopping.

Klarna also said it saw a 29% increase in orders placed by U.S. shoppers on Black Friday.

(Reporting by Deborah Sophia and Juby Babu in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)

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