Top Spending Trends from the Start of the 2022 Holiday Shopping Season

12.06.2022 Sara Brasfield3 min

After a year of tough economic conditions, and uncertainty about a possible recession in the future, retailers, economic experts and consumers have all been eager to see what kinds of retail trends emerged at the start of the holiday shopping season.

After the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend, we finally have our answer: a little bit of good, and a little bit of not-so-good. Overall, though, the unofficial kickoff to the holiday shopping season offered more optimism than worry for most retailers. Meanwhile, the consumer trends shaping this shopping weekend revealed some interesting opportunities retailers may have to connect with holiday shoppers through relevant ad messaging.

Without further ado, here are the top spending trends shaping the 2022 holiday shopping season:

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Break Sales Records

At first glance, the sales figures for the post-Thanksgiving shopping blitz would suggest that holiday shoppers are approaching the season with the same gusto as in years’ past. Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday saw total sales in the U.S. hit new records: Black Friday generated $9.1 billion in online and in-store sales, while Cyber Monday accounted for $11.3 billion in spending.

Those strong numbers will likely spark some optimism among retailers who had been braced for the worst. In the face of economic uncertainty, consumers are pushing forward with their holiday plans and are instead focused on smaller adjustments to their spending strategy, rather than slashing their holiday budgets altogether.

Inflation and Economic Uncertainty Takes Its Toll on Holiday Shoppers

Although the total numbers for Black Friday and Cyber Monday broke spending records, some context is required—particularly in regards to inflation. The sales records aren’t quite as glamorous when you consider that inflation has increased roughly eight percent year-over-year from the previous holiday season. This means that even if consumers purchasing volume remained the same from 2021, total sales would have increased by eight percent.

In the case of Cyber Monday, sales only increased 5.3 percent, suggesting that consumers did indeed spend less than in 2021, even if the dollar amounts are breaking records. Black Friday was even worse, posting just a 2.3 percent increase in sales.

Once adjusted for inflation, both holiday shopping days actually saw a decline in sales. Although that decline was modest, it isn’t as encouraging as record-breaking headlines might suggest.

Cyber Monday Extends Its Lead as the Single-Biggest Spending Day

Black Friday is historically treated as the biggest shopping day of the year, but that title has been ceded in recent years to Cyber Monday, which has been outperforming Black Friday in total retail sales since at least 2014.

The 2022 season is no different: With $11.3 billion in single-day sales, Cyber Monday beat Black Friday by a margin of $2.3 billion, and increased the size of its lead from 2021. This continued trend demonstrates the enduring popularity of online shopping—but with such a large sales volume across both of these retail events, it makes sense for most retailers to build ad campaigns around each unofficial shopping holiday.

Small Business Saturday Suffers a Slip in Sales

Small Business Saturday has become a major retail event raising awareness and sales revenue for local businesses in their communities. This multi-year awareness campaign has helped local retailers grow their market share of holiday sales for more than a decade, culminating in a record $23.3 billion in sales in 2021.

This year, Small Business Saturday numbers fell well short of that mark, driving an estimated $17.9 billion in sales for locally owned businesses. While that sales volume still delivers a meaningful influx of revenue for businesses, it’s a disappointing result that underscores the need for businesses to invest in advertising that drives awareness and sales conversions for their brand.

Bargain Hunting is On The Rise This Holiday Season

With inflation and recession fears putting pressure on consumers, a greater emphasis on bargain-hunting and discounts is being seen among this year’s consumers. Retailers are also feeling competition from fellow businesses when pricing inventory in response to inflation, with some businesses trying to walk a fine line between offering competitive prices and preserving their bottom-line.

This also means consumers are more likely to respond to advertising that emphasizes cost savings and discounts as they seek out the best deals and stretch their holiday shopping dollars. From discount-heavy promotions to an emphasis on savings and value, strategic changes to your ad messaging can help you gain the attention—and the spending dollars—of this year’s batch of holiday shoppers.

A digital advertising partner can help you refine these ad campaigns to optimize performance and ROI. Contact Cox Media today to see how we can help.

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About the Author

Sara Brasfield

Sara is the Content Marketing Manager for Cox Media’s corporate team in Atlanta, with a passion for writing and delivering relevant insights for advertisers. With more than seven years of experience in B2B marketing, Sara aims to help Cox Media’s current and future clients connect with their customers find new and unique ways to grow their business. Outside of the (now virtual!) office, Sara loves spending time running, reading and supporting her favorite teams (Go Braves & Gamecocks!).

View All of Sara Brasfield's Blog Posts

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