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NEWSLETTERS Current Issue Black Friday sees first drop since 2009, despite boost in shoppers, online sales
Black Friday sees first drop since 2009, despite boost in shoppers, online sales PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeremy Burns   
Monday, 02 December 2013 12:44 PM EST

MatthewShay-NRF-WebTotal spending from Thanksgiving weekend is estimated at $57.4 billion, which is 2.8% less than last year’s $59.1 billion, according to a survey released by the National Retail Federation. This marks the first decline in Black Friday weekend spending since 2009.

Black Friday was the biggest shopping day of the Thanksgiving weekend, as more than 92 million people shopped (65.2%) for apparel, electronics and other popular items, up from nearly 89 million last year. The NRF survey reported that more than 141 million unique shoppers hit stores during the four-day weekend, up from 139 million during the same time frame last year.

According to the survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, traffic on Thanksgiving Day itself grew 27% as nearly 45 million shoppers, or 31.8% of holiday shoppers, took advantage of special Thanksgiving Day offers, up from 35 million in 2012.

More consumers felt that there were a greater number of early-bird specials in stock last year (50.4% versus 63.5% last year), and that Friday's prices were not as aggressively priced, according to the Christmas & Holiday Shopping Forecast released today by America’s Research Group and Inmar.

More people shopped in fewer stores this year versus last year, as 30.1% reported shopping in two stores between Thanksgiving and Black Friday this year, versus 24.2% last year. The number of consumers who shopped in three or four stores on those two days dropped from 30% last year to 22% this year.

“Cold weather, unique promotions and unbeatable prices put millions of Americans in the mood to shop for holiday gifts this weekend,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Retailers’ late night and early morning promotions struck just the right chord for those hoping to kick off the holiday shopping season with friends and family.”

“With only a few weeks until the big day, retailers will continue to aggressively promote their in-store and online offerings, looking to entice today’s very budget-conscious and value-focused shopper,” Shay added.

“Despite early-bird special disappointment, consumers still spent more this past weekend than they had planned, largely due to deals being too good to pass up," said Britt Beemer, chairman and CEO of America's Research Group. That survey also showed a record-high increase for consumers spending more than $750 Thursday and Friday, up from 9.5% last year to 18.6% this year.

Low prices helped keep Americans’ budgets in check this weekend: On average, shoppers spent $407.02 from Thursday through Sunday (planned), down from $423.55 last year.

The NRF survey indicates that almost half (49.2%) of holiday shoppers during the weekend sought out information about promotions and sales via advertising circulars, and one-third (33.0%) conducted online searches to find the best deals. Additionally, 36.8% made sure to keep track of emails from retailers, 16.4% reviewed retail companies’ Facebook accounts for information, and 12.2% browsed stores to find bargains and sales.

The weekend shopping excitement wasn’t limited to stores, however; consumers also spent more of their holiday budgets online. According to the NRF survey, more than four in 10 (42.1%) indicated they shopped online during the weekend, representing approximately 59 million shoppers.

Of those, the average person spent $177.67 online during the weekend, or approximately 43.7% of his total weekend spending, up from 40.7% last year. NRF also asked shoppers which days they shopped online – more than one-quarter (26.5%) of holiday shoppers said they shopped online on Thanksgiving Day, and nearly half (47.1%) shopped online on Black Friday. Additionally, 35.7% shopped online on Saturday and 24.5% have shopped or will shop online on Sunday.

“Despite record-breaking online shopping Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, holiday shoppers aren’t done yet; we expect Cyber Monday to be bigger than ever,” said Shay.

“Online shopping over the Thanksgiving weekend continues to be more popular as retailers tout special holiday savings through their mobile apps and websites,” said Prosper’s Consumer Insights Director Pam Goodfellow. “With limited budgets this year, holiday shoppers will continue to make very thoughtful decisions about when and where they shop the remainder of the season, making sure to compare prices and keep up with retailers’ advertisements for special sales.

“An extremely promotional Thanksgiving weekend got consumers excited about the holiday shopping season and on the lookout for more great deals and prices,” added Goodfellow. “Shoppers are still checking off their gift lists and millions will use Cyber Monday to hunt for remaining items while staying in line with their budgets.”

 
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