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U.S. Thanksgiving weekend sees record 197 million shoppers -NRF

Shoppers ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in Chicago

By Deborah Mary Sophia and Granth Vanaik

(Reuters) -Deep discounts on everything from fashion to electronics during the Thanksgiving weekend encouraged more Americans to open their wallets even as inflation weighed on their shopping budgets, data from the National Retail Federation showed on Tuesday.

A record 196.7 million shoppers made purchases in stores and online during the five-day holiday period from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, shattering the trade group's expectations of 166.3 million and up more than 9% from last year.

Consumers held out for better deals over the Thanksgiving weekend, even as retailers ranging from Target Corp to Kohl's Corp kicked off a holiday discount frenzy as early as October.

"The Thanksgiving holiday shopping weekend is a tradition treasured by many American families ... As inflationary pressures persist, consumers have responded by stretching their dollars in any way possible," NRF President Matthew Shay said.

Even as sporadic rains across some parts of the country threatened to dampen shopping during the weekend, a total of over 122.7 million people still shopped at brick-and-mortar outlets, a 17% jump from a year earlier. In comparison, the number of people shopping online grew at a slower pace.

NRF said consumers on average spent $325.44 on holiday-related purchases over the course of the weekend, an increase of about 8% from last year.

"It is important to note that while some may claim that retail sales gains are the result of higher prices ... It is consumer demand that is driving growth," Shay added.

Apparel, toys, video games and electronics flew off the shelves, NRF said, adding that shoppers found discounts to be better than what they had expected or had seen before.

Data from Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures in-store and online sales across all forms of payments, also showed on Tuesday that U.S. retail sales rose about 11% between Thanksgiving Day and Sunday.

(Reporting by Granth Vanaik and Deborah Sophia in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Anil D'Silva)