The turnout far exceeded the 164 million who said they planned to shop over the five-day weekend in previous surveys, and gave retailers a welcome boost heading into the final five weeks of the holiday shopping season. Multichannel shoppers spent $82 more on average than the online-only shopper, NRF noted, and $49 more on average than the in-store shopper.
On this Cyber Monday, shoppers in the USA are expected to spend billions of dollars online.
The online sales on Black Friday and Thanksgiving rose to 7.9 billion dollars, a record high, and up 17.9 percent from a year ago, said Adobe Analytics in a latest report, which covers transactions at the largest 100 US online retailers. As of last night, Cyber Monday was on track to hit $6.57 billion in sales, up almost 17 percent from 2016, making it the biggest one yet.
This has left some high street outlets feeling the pinch, even though most big retailers capitalise on e-commerce sales through the likes of click and collect to get more people into stores.
In its report, Adobe reported that the holiday season to date (Nov 1 - Nov 27) has brought in $50 billion in online shopping revenue, 16.8% growth year over year. Adobe's research wing found that e-commerce sales clocked in at $2.87 billion on Thanksgiving and $5.03 billion on Black Friday, beating estimates on both days. Stern said he shopped both online and in stores - sometimes simultaneously - on Black Friday in search of the best deals. "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. As more traditional retailers ramp up their online offerings, it matters less where a sale was made, he said.
Who says Black Friday is dead? "People increasingly know where to find the best deals and what they want to purchase, which results in less price matching behavior typically done on desktops". The biggest spenders were Millennials 25 to 34 years old, who dished out $419.52.
The National Retail Federation reported that 63 percent of smartphone owners used their mobile devices to make Christmas gift decisions and 29 percent used their phones to purchase items last weekend.
ShopperTrak, a firm that tracks store foot traffic, said shopper visits declined 1.6 percent over the combined Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday period, a much smaller decline that in recent years.
The NRF said it still expects retail sales to grow by 3.6 to 4 percent this holiday season.
Top shopping destinations included department stores (43 percent), online retailers (42 percent), electronic stores (32 percent), clothing and accessories stores (31 percent) and discount stores (also 31 percent).