The holiday shopping season looks to have started on solid footing despite consumers seeing far fewer discounts in stores and online as retailers seek to protect profits from supply chain inflation.
U.S. retail sales during Thanksgiving weekend rose 14.1% from a year ago and 5.8% from 2019 (pre-pandemic), Mastercard SpendingPulse data revealed on Monday. Sales in stores surged 16.5% year-over-year as shoppers returned to malls likely after being vaccinated for COVID-19. E-commerce sales for the holiday weekend rose 4.9% year-over-year, Mastercard SpendingPulse said.
The strongest categories for sales included apparel (up 51.2% from last year) and jewelry (up 78.4% from last year).
Shares of Costco, Target and Amazon rallied on the sales numbers.
Meanwhile, Salesforce said in data of its own Monday that U.S. shoppers spent $13.4 billion on Black Friday, up 5% from a year ago. The best-performing categories for retailers included luxury handbags, furniture and general footwear.
“After a strong start to the holiday season, momentum continued with moderate growth throughout Cyber Week. With the smoothing out of demand throughout the entire season, peak days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday have less of an impact than previous years. It’s been less about Cyber Week and more about Cyber November. It’s always a retailer’s dream to pull demand early in the fall, and with supply chain bottlenecks and fears of inflation, consumers did shop early and often," said Rob Garf, Salesforce's general manager of retail.
Whether the momentum could continue into December is unclear given fresh concerns around the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Consumers are also dealing with far fewer deals this holiday season, which may crimp last-minute shopping plans.
Of the 51 retailers tracked by Jefferies analyst Randal Konik, 55% saw lower promotions this Black Friday while 45% were unchanged compared to 2020.
"We noticed lower promos across the active space in both the apparel and footwear retailers. Nike, Under Armour, and Lululemon all posted flat or lower promos on a year-over-year basis," noted Konik. The analyst also observed fewer deals at Yeti, Ugg and Victoria's Secret.