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Holiday Shopping Trends Show Competition Thriving in Retail

The holiday shopping season is off to a strong start, and record-high sales suggest competition is thriving in the retail market. The National Retail Federation expects holiday sales to increase by up to 8% this year, and initial Thanksgiving weekend data support its projections. A record 196.7 million consumers shopped over the holiday weekend, nearly 17 million more than last year.

Store traffic rose 7% this Black Friday compared to 2021 as online sales reached a record-breaking $9 billion. What’s more, Cyber Monday purchases reached $11.3 billion—another historic high. Whether it’s physical stores or online marketplaces, retailers are offering great deals and conveniences to attract shoppers—and it’s working.

Where Consumers Are Shopping

Physical stores saw a considerable increase in foot traffic over the five days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. Up 17% from 2021, in-person shopping is “more vibrant than it has been in years,” according to an Insider Intelligence report

The number of online shoppers grew, too, rising just 2% year-over-year as 130.2 million people shopped online.

Profitero’s annual report shows Amazon had the lowest online prices among all retailers it studied, averaging prices 13% lower than competitors. Yet data from Captify shows Walmart took the top spot among shoppers searching for online Black Friday discounts, followed by Target and Kohl’s. 

This diverse list of performers signals strong competition across many businesses—from “superstores” to curated specialty shops. 

It isn’t just large retailers that benefit from thriving holiday shopping. Small businesses are doing well, too, and some larger companies are even helping them reach more customers. For example, American small business sellers in Amazon’s store generated more than $1 billion in sales during Thanksgiving weekend. And the Etsy marketplace, with more than 7 million sellers, had its biggest Black Friday ever

Good Deals Are Driving Sales

Businesses are using deep discounts to attract customers in this economy. Although the holiday season naturally increases shopping interest, inflation is still stretching our budgets. This means shoppers are seeking out great deals and convenient shopping options.

In turn, retailers—many of which are eager to sell excess inventory—offered an average discount of 30% over the Thanksgiving shopping period. Black Friday apparel sales reached up to 13.8%, electronics up to 23.4% and toys up to 31.8%. And stores like Walmart, Kohl’s, Best Buy and Target offered big deals online for Cyber Monday.

Additionally, retailers are delivering a convenient balance of online and in-person shopping options. Retail Dive reports that 63.2% of consumers plan to do at least some of their holiday shopping in stores this year, up from 58% last year. 

On Black Friday, a quarter of consumers used buy-online-pick-up-in-store, nearly twice as many as last year. Curbside pickup increased, too. Buy-now-pay-later options also helped shoppers navigate inflation, with use of these tools increasing by 78% compared to the week before Thanksgiving.

It’s Clear: Competition Is Thriving in Retail

As holiday shopping continues, one thing is clear: competition is thriving in retail. From online marketplaces to physical stores and small businesses, consumers have so many options to shop affordably, and they’re feeling the benefits of it. 

Even amid inflation, retailers are boosting sales by offering discounts and shopping conveniences. Despite a few politicians trying to paint some retailers as anti-competitive, the facts prove otherwise. Across the board, this sector is seeing record-high sales by providing customers with plenty of ways to shop and afford the items they desire. As a result, consumers know they can compare offers, access the right service and fulfillment options, and choose the best deals based on their needs—vital signs of a healthy, competitive market.