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Gift Cards Win the Holiday Season Kickoff Weekend

The Black Friday and holiday shopping season kickoff weekend was a big win for buy now, pay later, and for gift cards, according to data culled from the platforms of Afterpay and Square.

There was also a boost in holiday staffing. Labor data from Square Payroll revealed a 19 percent increase in holiday staffing, with 260,000 store associates working 3.8 million hours for the weekend period. On average, employees clocked 14 hours.

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Regarding consumer data, the companies said buy now, pay later transactions soared 120 percent as compared to last year. The total number of sales transactions on Square’s platform came in at 61 million, with more than 245,000 gift cards sold.

“The top industries for gift card sales were food and beverage, beauty and personal care, and health care and fitness,” the companies said in a statement. “Consumers who preferred to purchase physical gifts saw an average Black Friday/Cyber Monday discount of 21 percent, with sellers using Square Marketing to advertise their offers and drive sales.”

“The Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend kicks off the biggest shopping season for businesses — but it’s only the beginning,” said Alyssa Henry, head of Square. “We’re entering a pivotal month for businesses to end the year with strong momentum, especially given recent headwinds. Sellers should leverage multiple revenue streams across online and in-person to ensure a successful holiday season, using software like marketing and loyalty programs to keep their business top of mind and to attract customers.”

Digging deeper into the data showed that the largest volume of sales was New York/Brooklyn, London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Toronto.

By category, food and beverage saw the greatest year-over-year gain, with a 251 percent increase. Hardware came in next with 128 percent and was followed by travel and experiences with a 57 percent gain. Automotive rose 32 percent, and footwear increased by 16 percent.

The trending online products purchased with Afterpay included beauty advent calendars, fluffy slides, perfume, sneakers and tracksuits.

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