Over the past few years, the time period that traditionally marked the start of the holiday shopping season has turned into one that’s comprised of two deadlines — Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s also become a season that dominates ad spending in a way that promises to be unprecedented. The National Retail Federation estimates that this year, U.S. holiday sales will be just shy of $800 billion, which would mark the first time sales exceeded that level. In some ways, this points to two trends: One, that Black Friday is now a proxy for Christmas, and two, that more and more consumers are expecting to spend their money before Christmas.
But what happens when the season starts later? Can this year’s opening weekend— the last one before Thanksgiving— break the overall spending record? This Thanksgiving, it’s not the beginning of the holiday season that’s likely to be busiest. It’s not even Black Friday.
The figures below from Slice Intelligence show some initial projections for the shopping season, which vary by store location: Overall, Slice Intelligence predicts that more than 54 million Americans will either start shopping online from home on Thanksgiving day or afterward on Black Friday, which would set a new record. But the retail organization is projecting that shoppers will spend $31.8 billion online between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, which would also set a new record. The previous record was $29.6 billion last year, and The Wall Street Journal notes that consumers like how they can compare prices, order delivery on their phones and snag deals throughout the season.
The holiday shopping start comes at a time when the industry is dealing with the fallout from an ugly data breach at the Target chain, but let’s not overlook the other big threat to the season — the weather. Several hurricanes have caused the cancellation of many flights and kept shoppers and would-be shoppers away from malls.
Still, this season is certainly going to have its share of presents: Thanksgiving is expected to be one of the busiest shopping days of the year. For comparison, here’s a look at Black Friday sales last year.
Can Christmas 2016 break all previous records?
#Thanksgiving pic.twitter.com/UcwT35nhsB — Cagle Cartoons (@caglecartoons) September 18, 2017