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Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Holiday sales expected to set records

Merchants should be buoyed by reports that a record number of Americans will be shopping in-store and online from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, Nov. 23 through 27. Survey results just released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics indicate an estimated 182 million U.S. consumers will be shopping for deals during the upcoming holiday weekend.

That's 15.7 million more Thanksgiving weekend shoppers than the NRF counted last year. In fact, it's the highest estimated number of shoppers since the federation began keeping track of this data in 2017.

"The Thanksgiving holiday weekend marks some of the busiest shopping days of the year," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. "Retailers have been preparing for months for this occasion."

According to the survey, nearly three quarters of holiday shoppers (74 percent) plan to hit stores during the five-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend this year. That's up from 69 percent pre-pandemic, in 2019. The top reasons consumers gave for shopping over the weekend are that the deals are too good to pass up (given by 61 percent) and out of tradition (28 percent).

Black Friday continues to be the most popular day to shop, with an estimated 72 percent of Americans (130.7 million) having plans to hit the stores and shop online that day, up from 69 percent last year. Thirty-nine percent (71.1 million) of those planning to shop over the weekend will be doing so on Cyber Monday, a number the NRF described as on par with last year.

As has been the case in recent years, many U.S. shoppers got an early start on their holiday shopping. Almost half (48 percent) of the just over 8,400 consumers surveyed by the NRF and Prosper Insights earlier this month already had purchased gifts for the holiday season.

"Early shopping is a trend we have been tracking for several years, and this year, there is evidence the deals and promotions from October resonated with consumers," said Phil Rist, executive vice president for strategy at Prosper Insights. He added that more than 40 percent of shoppers in the study said they took advantage of retailers' October sales to jump-start their holiday shopping.

Even with early shopping, the five-day shopping extravaganza that begins on Thanksgiving Day and continues through next Monday will comprise some of the busiest shopping days of the year. Earlier this month, the NRF predicted holiday spending would reach record levels during November and December, growing between 3 percent and 4 percent over 2022.

The group expects holiday spending to total between $957.3 billion and $966.6 billion. That puts this year's anticipated spending growth on par with the period 2010 to 2019, when annual spending increases averaged 3.6 percent, NRF said.

Beware the grinch called fraud

In a recent report, the software firm NICE Actimize projected even higher levels of spending this holiday season. It said sales between November 2023 and January 2024 will reach between $1.54 trillion and $1.56 trillion.

The bad news is that fraud threats are growing, too. NICE Actimize predicts $48 billion in ecommerce fraud, alone, will occur this year, up from $41 billion in 2022.

Consumers as well as merchants believe they are bigger fraud targets than they were just a year ago, NICE Actimize noted in its report, Holiday Fraud Trends 2023. More than half of consumers the firm surveyed said they feel that way, with their primary concerns being identity theft (64 percent) and stolen card information (61 percent).

Meanwhile, seven out of 10 business owners NICE surveyed said they've experienced higher fraud losses in recent years. end of article

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