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Black Friday Fatigue? 174 Million Americans Disagree

November 28, 2017, 9:14 PM UTC

Who says Black Friday is dead?

Some 174 million Americans went shopping over the weekend anchored by Black Friday, going from Thanksgiving and extending to Cyber Monday, according to a survey published on Tuesday by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. That was far more people than expected and a promising start to the bulk of the holiday shopping season: the NRF and Prosper had expected 164 million to shop at stores or online over the five day weekend. (Some 66 million shopped on Friday, either online or in stores, while 81 million shopped on Monday.)

The industry group reiterated its expectation for retail sales to rise 3.6% to 4% in November and December and said on a media call the long weekend was consistent with its seasonal projection though it would not say how the weekend fared versus last year’s, citing a change in methodology, including the inclusion this year of Cyber Monday.

The NRF said many conditions created an environment favorable to shopping. “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,” NRF Chief Executive Matt Shay said on the call with reporters. And while a strong Black Friday weekend is never perfectly correlated with how a holiday season goes, Shay added that “We are certainly encouraged that we are starting off from a position of strength.”

His comments echoed those of CEOs of companies like Macy’s (M) and Kohl’s (KSS) about the purportedly strong Thanksgiving and Black Friday. And the strong performance of digital sales on Cyber Monday also bolsters that sentiment: Adobe Analytics said that digital sales hit an all-time daily record of $6.59 billion on Cyber Monday, a 16.8% jump over last year for the biggest online shopping day ever in the United States.

For the third year in a row, more shoppers went online than to stores with the chasm growing: some 58 million people only shopped online, while 51 million shopper went to stores only. But the sweet spot for retailers like Macy’s, Walmart (WMT) and Target (TGT) which have been making big strides to combine stores and e-commerce, 64 million Americans shopper both, and spent on average $82 more than online-only shoppers.