The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge in online demand as people avoid going out to shop. To meet the rush, retail chains have been investing heavily in e-commerce and delivery services, such as curbside pickup.
Still the NRF's survey, conducted by research firm Prosper Insights & Analytics, showed only 186.4 million people made purchases between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday, down from 189.6 million last year.
The number of in-store shoppers more than halved from a year earlier on Thanksgiving Day, while that on Black Friday dropped by 37%, the NRF said. It added people spent less on holiday-related purchases such as gifts or decorations over the five-day period.
Adobe Digital Insights, meanwhile, cut its estimates for U.S. online holiday sales to $184 billion, implying a 30% increase compared to its previous forecast of a 33% jump.
However, NRF stuck to its overall holiday season sales forecast of a 3.6% to 5.2% jump from a year earlier.
(Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)