U.S. retail group expects over 150 million shoppers on Saturday before Christmas

A shopper wearing a face protective mask walks by Christmas decorations at The Grove shopping center during a partial lockdown amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Los Angeles

(Reuters) -Over 150 million American shoppers could buy holiday gifts in stores or online this year on the last Saturday before Christmas, or “Super Saturday,” up by more than 2 million from last year, the National Retail Federation said on Thursday.

This year “Super Saturday” falls nearly a week before the holiday, giving shoppers a few extra days to complete purchases than they had last year. Many are likely to stick with online purchases due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Consumers have embraced an earlier start to the holiday season. They are spreading out their holiday shopping and taking advantage of sales and promotions from retailers in local communities and national brands,” trade group NRF President and Chief Executive Officer Matthew Shay said.

The coronavirus pandemic has upended the way U.S. consumers shop, with retailers including Walmart Inc, Target Corp, Best Buy Co In, and Kohl’s Corp rolling out earlier-than-ever promotions this holiday shopping season.

Of those planning to shop on Saturday, 42% intend to do so online only, the retail trade group said.

Craig Johnson, president at retail consultancy Customer Growth Partners, expects people to spend $36.1 billion this year on Super Saturday, up from the $34.4 billion they spent last year. These estimates include in-store and online purchases but exclude sales generated at gas stations, restaurants and automobile dealers. In comparison, Black Friday generated $29.7 billion in sales this year, he said.

(Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru and Melissa Fares in New York; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and David Gregorio)