More consumers shopped online than in stores during the five-day Thanksgiving period that includes Cyber Monday, the National Retail Federation says. More than half of younger consumers used their phones to shop.

More consumers shopped online than in bricks-and-mortar stores over the five-day period from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, and many shoppers, especially younger ones, researched and bought on their smartphones, according to data released today by the National Retail Federation.

Based on a survey of 3,242 consumers conducted Saturday and Sunday by Prosper Insights & Analytics, NRF president Matthew Shay reported that 174 million consumers shopped over the five-day holiday period, 6% more than the 164 million who said they planned to shop over the holiday weekend in a previous NRF/Prosper survey in early November.

Of those who said they shopped or would shop Nov. 23-27, 64 million said they shopped both online and in stores, 58 million online only and 51 million in-store only. That means 122 million, or 70%, of weekend shoppers went online to research or buy, versus 115 million, or 66% who shopped in stores.

Like other reports of holiday shopping, this survey suggested heavy shopping on mobile devices, especially smartphones. Among the 83.9% of survey respondents who owned smartphones, 42.1% said they planned to research purchases on their phones and 29.0% to purchase.

Young consumers were especially likely to use their phones for shopping. More than half of smartphones owners 44 and under planned to research purchases on their phones, and more than 50% of those 34 and under planned to buy via their phones.


“The big story is mobile shopping,” Shay told reporters on a conference call today.

Of the 54.6% of survey respondents who said they owned tablets, 37.4% said they planned to research products on those devices and 31.1% to buy. While tablet use did not skew as heavily to younger consumers, the segment most likely to shop on tablets were those 25 to 34. In that age group, 41.8% planned to research on their tablets and 39.2% to purchase products over the holiday period.

Shay reported that the average weekend shopper spent $335 in stores and online over the five-day period, of which $251, or 75%, was spent on gifts for others.


While 174 million consumers spending an average of $335 per person would suggest total retail spend over the five-day period of $59.3 billion, Phil Rist, executive vice president of Prosper Insights, said that was not necessarily a valid conclusion because the survey respondents were not weighted in a way that would allow a projection of total spending by all U.S. consumers.

NRF also said that this year’s survey was conducted differently from past surveys, so that year-over-year comparisons were not possible.

However, Shay emphasized that the survey results and conversations he’s had with retail executives suggest that this has been, and will likely continue to be, a strong holiday season.

“All the fundamentals were in place for consumers to take advantage of incredible deals and promotions retailers had to offer,” he said. “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.”


The most popular day for online shopping was Cyber Monday when 81 million consumers said they planned to shop websites, followed by Black Friday at 66 million. On Cyber Monday, 49% of consumers planned to shop early in the morning and 41% to start late morning. 75% expected to use their home computers, 43% a mobile device and 13% a work computer.

The most popular day for in-store shopping was Black Friday, when 77 million consumers said they shopped, followed by Saturday at 55 million.

The survey found that 11% shopped before 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, when most big-box stores had not yet opened but were offering deals online, and another 11% started at 6 p.m.

NRF did not give a dollar amount for what consumers who shopped both online and in stores spent, but it did say those multichannel shoppers were the biggest spenders and spent $49 more (17% more) than those who shopped just in stores, and $82 more (32% more), than consumers who shopped only online.