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The nation’s largest retail group is very happy with how Americans shopped over the five-day Black Friday weekend.

With final numbers coming in for sales between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, the holiday weekend “is turning out to be even bigger than we expected,” said National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay in a press call today to discuss the results.

NRF polling and research showed that 196.7 million consumers shopped over the long weekend, 17 million people more than in 2021.

The majority of those shoppers – 123 million – shopped in stores over the weekend, up 17% over last year.

The number of online shoppers grew by a smaller percentage, rising 2% to 130.2 million online shoppers this year.

‘Pent-up demand” for store shopping

There were a record number of shoppers in stores each day of the weekend, Shay said. The strong return to stores “reflects this pent-up demand by all of us as social creatures,” for traditional, in-person experiences.

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Making a holiday shopping trip to stores is “obviously a cherished time for a lot of people,” Shay said.

After seeing the weekend’s results, the NRF is confident holiday sales will meet its forecast of 6% to 8% growth.

The Black Friday weekend used to be the traditional kickoff of the holiday season, but with earlier holiday shopping in recent years, encouraged by deals in October and early November, it now is more like the midpoint of the season, Shay said. The NRF polls show consumers have only completed about half their holiday shopping at this point.

The Black Friday weekend, however, “continues to be a good indicator of the overall health of the consumer and the economy,” Shay said.

Companies that track online sales also are reporting that the Black Friday weekend exceeded expectations.

Cyber Monday breaks record

Adobe Analytics reported today that Cyber Monday set an online spending record of $11.3 billion, up 5.8% over last year’s Cyber Monday. During the peak hour of Cyber Monday spending, between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Pacific, shoppers spent $12.8 million online every minute.

The five-day weekend, from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, generated $35.37 billion in online sales, according to Adobe Analytics, up 4% over 2021. Black Friday, with $9.12 billion spent, and Thanksgiving, with $5.29 billion, also broke previous online spending records for those days.

Shay warned however that the threatened rail strike next week could dramatically impact the NRF’s optimistic holiday outlook.

“Any slowdown, stoppage, delay in rail transit of goods and people in this country would be devastating for our economy, for American households, and for American working families,” he said.

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