Holiday Spending Surpasses Forecast as Millennials Lead the Way

The holiday shopping season got off to a strong start over the Thanksgiving holiday, as consumers sought out big deals both online and in stores.

More than 174 million Americans shopped from Thursday through Monday, the National Retail Federation said Tuesday, about 10 million more than it had forecast.

Older millennials (ages 25 to 34) drove the five-day shopping spree, spending an average of $419.52.

Sales during the period were helped by good weather across much of the country and strength in the economy, including low unemployment and the rising stock market, the federation said.

The retail trade group, which based its figures on a national sampling of consumers, did not provide the amount of total sales generated.

“We are certainly encouraged that we are starting off from a period of strength,” Matthew Shay, president of the National Retail Federation, said in a call on Tuesday with reporters. “It bodes well for the rest of the year.”

The data also indicated that brick-and-mortar stores were still capturing a significant amount of traffic, despite fears that they are losing their relevance in the e-commerce age. About 58 million consumers shopped online only, while 51 million shopped in stores only. Roughly 64 million shopped in both stores and online.

This was the first year that the National Retail Federation analyzed shopping trends for the entire five-day period. Previously, the trade group tabulated data only for Thanksgiving, Black Friday and the Saturday that followed.

As a result of the change, the trade group said it could not compare this year’s shopping volume with previous years.