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Super Saturday Could Draw Record Last-Minute Shoppers: NRF

The National Retail Federation says so-called Super Saturday could set records this year.

The Washington, D.C. trade group’s survey says 180 million consumers reported plans to shop on Dec. 17 for a more than tenfold increase over what it found last year. The 7,857-person survey by NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics found the highest expected physical and digital footfall since they started tracking this data in 2016.

NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said that a record number of consumers have been shopping for the season this year, and retail sales from Nov. 1-Dec. 31 are expected to grow between 6 percent and 8 percent over 2021, to between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion. “With Super Saturday falling eight days before Christmas, retailers are prepared to help shoppers fulfill their last-minute purchases that will make this holiday season memorable,” he said.

Forty-six percent of consumers, or 72.2 million, said they plan to shop in store and online. By contrast, 44.1 million (28 percent) indicated plans to shop only in stores, with 42.2 million (27 percent) intending to stick exclusively with e-commerce. “Consumers have been shifting back to in-store shopping for a more traditional holiday shopping experience, and we expect record participation for this year’s Super Saturday shopping weekend,” Shay said.

The record interest in Super Saturday shopping comes despite many shoppers get a start on the season back in October, when Amazon, Walmart, Target and other big retailers staged early Black Friday promotions. But similar to survey results in the recent past, holiday shoppers this year said in early December that they had only completed about half (53 percent) of what was on their list. They plan to wrap up their shopping online (47 percent), at department stores (37 percent), at discount stores (27 percent), at clothing and accessories specialty stores (24 percent) and at grocery stores (19 percent).

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Apparel ranks at the top of consumers’ lists (50 percent), followed by toys (34 percent), gift cards (28 percent), books and media (26 percent) and food and candy (23 percent).

Amazon’s Very Merry Deals event, which kicked off Monday and will run through Dec. 21, offers up to 45 percent off Amazon private-label clothing and footwear for men, women and kids, 50 percent off luggage from Amazon Basics, up to 66 percent off sheets, towels and bedding from Amazon Basics, up to 69 percent off Tempurpedic mattresses and pillows, up to 63 percent off some Christmas trees and seasonal décor, and up to 20 percent off Casper mattresses.

Experiential gifts are growing in popularity, according to the 28 percent interested in giving concert or sporting event tickets, spa services, class passes and similar sorts of things. This is the highest share of respondents since NRF and Prosper started asking the question in 2015. It’s also a 23-percent increase from 2021 when socializing was far from back to normal.

Super Saturday could be a shot in the arm fo retailers after a dip in November, which NRF attributed to October’s strong shopping data. U.S. Census data released Thursday showed that November’s sales were down 0.6 percent from the previous month, but still beat November 2021 by 6.5 percent. Excluding spending on cars, gas and dining out, NRF data showed that November sales declined 0.4 percent from October, but rose 5.6 percent unadjusted year over year. October saw sales up by 0.6 from the month before, and 6.2 percent from the same period a year prior.

NRF and Prosper Analytics estimate that 158 million shoppers will shop in stores and online on Dec. 17, the final Saturday prior to Christmas Day.
A shopper in Chicago. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Sales on clothing and accessories dropped 0.2 percent month over month seasonally adjusted, but saw a 1.7 percent unadjusted jump from November last year, NRF data showed. Home furnishings and furniture also declined 2.6 percent month over month seasonally adjusted, down an unadjusted 3.3 percent from last year.

“Consumers continued to spend on household priorities and holiday gifts for loved ones this November despite continued inflation and rising interest rates,” Shay said. “Holiday shoppers are demonstrating resilience, and retailers are providing great products and experiences at the right price levels to help stretch household budgets.”

NRF and Prosper also found that consumers shifting back to their pre-pandemic routines, with 70 percent saying they plan to purchase products after Christmas—on par with 2019 numbers.

“Strong shopping is expected after Christmas as holiday shoppers aim to take advantage of retailers’ sales and promotions,” Prosper executive vice president of strategy Phil Rist said. “In the week following Christmas Day, we expect to see consumers maximize holiday sales and promotions, use gift cards and return or exchange unwanted gifts.”

The shift back to post-Christmas deal-hunting suggests consumers are trying get the most for their money. “While job and wage gains and built-up pandemic-era savings supported holiday shoppers in November, shoppers were squeezed by inflation and higher interest rates,” NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said.

“This was the first leg of the official holiday season and had a large hurdle to overcome with monthly comparisons because of early shopping in October, but the consumer remains surprisingly resilient,” he continued. “The healthy year-over-year comparison is more important and clearly shows that the economy is not in a recession. Spending is on track to meet our expectations for a solid holiday season.”

Consumers also seem to be changing the way they pay for goods. More than half of those surveyed (52 percent) said they would use alternative payment methods or digital wallets, 44 percent than last year. PayPal is the most common alternative payment method (32 percent), followed by Apple Pay (14 percent) and CashApp (12 percent). Alt payments are most popular with the younger set, as 76 percent of Gen Z shoppers say they’ve already used these services this holiday season.