Shoppers are making a list — and checking it twice for the best possible deals.
On Cyber Monday, consumers spent $12.4 billion online, up 9.6% compared to last year, per Adobe Analytics' data on e-commerce. As people looked to cash in last-minute deals between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET, $15.7 million was spent every minute.
This comes after Black Friday brought in a record-breaking $9.8 billion, up 7.5% compared to a year ago, while the following weekend saw $10.3 billion spent.
The total for Cyber Week — the five-day period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday — amounted to $38 billion, up 7.8% year over year. Retailers' plans to push harder on discounting may have worked, after consumers buckled down on spending amid rising interest rates, dwindling savings, the return of student loan payments, and credit card debt.
"Prices are coming down and then we see discounts on top of that," Patrick Brown, vice president of growth and insights at Adobe, said on Yahoo Finance Live (video above). These two factors combined to create "a huge increase in demand."
"Consumers are feeling like they've gotten a better deal," he said.
Discretionary categories, many of which were affected by the slowdown in spending, got the biggest boost on Monday. They include apparel, which saw an 189% jump in online sales compared to October 2023, followed by appliances, toys, furniture, electronics, jewelry, and sporting goods.
People visited sites more frequently to check for discounts, per Rakuten, a shopping platform that offers cash back for online shoppers. Marketplaces like Walmart (WMT) and eBay (EBAY) saw the highest increase in online traffic, followed by sites for home and garden items, business and office supplies, and pet products, among others.
While e-commerce keeps growing — Shopify reported its global merchants brought in a record $9.3 billion over the Black Friday to Cyber Monday weekend, a 24% increase compared to 2022 — Black Friday wasn't the doorbuster it used to be. On Friday, in-store traffic was up just 2% compared to last year, according to RetailNext, with beauty and jewelry brands bringing in the most foot traffic.
As a sign of times, shoppers spent $940 million using buy now, pay later (BNPL) on Cyber Monday, up 42.5% compared to last year.
Shares of Affirm (AFRM) closed nearly 12% higher on Monday, while Klarna shared with Yahoo Finance that on Black Friday alone, the company saw a nearly 30% boost in orders placed compared to last year.
Some of the items that consumers used BNPL for the most included food mixers and processors, TVs, soundbars and home entertainment, and coffee makers, along with other discretionary items.
Winners of Cyber Five
As retailers offered major markdowns, they also had to keep margins top of mind.
"What is the right price, when do we start our promotions, and what labor do we need to make sure that we're not dipping into that poor experience that people notice when they go into stores?" Accenture global retail practice lead Jill Puleri Standish said of retailers' mindset.
An early winner of the shopping bonanza was Abercrombie and Fitch (ANF), per a Jefferies note to its clients.
The brand managed to pull back discounting from 30% last year to 25% this year. The company is "well-positioned to drive strong margins and finish the year strong," according to Jefferies.
However, Jefferies noted that footwear and apparel companies generally continue to remain pressured.
Beauty and skincare is also growing as shoppers shell out for affordable, feel-good items. Piper Sandler said it continues to favor e.l.f. Beauty (ELF) and Coty (COTY), "with both proving to be outperformers in the beauty/consumer space."
Now all eyes are on the next 32-day period, as Christmas lands on a Monday this year. This historically has meant "a deeper lull" between Thanksgiving and Christmas and "more last-minute shopping given a full weekend before December 25," Dana Telsey, CEO of Telsey Advisory Group, said in a note to clients.
Shoppers typically wait until they are about 18 days to two weeks out from Christmas to start panic buying or making sure they get their presents in time of the day, SAP Emarsys retail strategist Kelsey Jones told Yahoo Finance Live.
Jones expects to see some of the discounts this weekend continue to "trickle" in as it gets deeper into the holiday season.
Brooke DiPalma is a senior reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeDiPalma or email her at email@example.com.