Shoppers turned out in greater numbers and had a higher average spend this Black Friday weekend versus a year ago, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).


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NRF: Encouraging start for holiday retail sales

November 29th, 2010

WASHINGTON – Shoppers turned out in greater numbers and had a higher average spend this Black Friday weekend versus a year ago, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

According to a NRF survey of more than 4,300 consumers conducted by BIGresearch, 212 million shoppers visited stores and web sites during Black Friday weekend (Nov. 25 to 27), up from 195 million last year. Consumers also spent more, with the average shopper this weekend spending $365.34, compared with $343.31 a year earlier. Total spending came in at an estimated $45 billion.

"While Black Friday weekend is not always an indicator of holiday season performance, retailers should be encouraged that a focus on value and discretionary gifts has shoppers in the spirit to spend," NRF president and chief executive officer Matthew Shay said in a statement. "As retailers look ahead to the first few weeks of December, it will be important for them to keep momentum going with savings and incentives that holiday shoppers simply can't pass up."

In terms of where people did their Black Friday weekend shopping, drug stores were one of the retail venues seeing an uptick, according to the NRF poll. This year, 13.6% of those surveyed said they did their holiday shopping at a drug store versus 13.4% last year.

Also on the upside regarding where consumers said they did their Black Friday weekend shopping were supermarkets (20.5% this year versus 19.6% in 2009), department stores (52% this year versus 49.4% in 2009), apparel/accessories stores (24.4% this year versus 22.9% in 2009) and craft/fabrics stores (7.2% this year versus 6.5% in 2009).

NRF noted that although shoppers seemed focused on getting good deals, items offering a strong value appeared to win out over the lowest prices. This year, smaller percentages of consumers said they did their Black Friday weekend shopping at discount stores (40.3% versus 43.2% in 2009), electronics stores (28.7% versus 29% in 2009) and other specialty stores (13.5% versus 14.9% in 2009).

Many retailers opened their doors earlier this year, and many succeeded in attracting shoppers, the survey found. The number of people who began their Black Friday shopping at midnight tripled this year to 9.5% from 3.3% in 2009. By 4 a.m. nearly a quarter (24%) of Black Friday shoppers were already at the stores, according to the poll. What's more, the number of people who shop on Thanksgiving, both online and in stores, has doubled over the past five years, from 10.3 million in 2005 to 22.3 million in 2010.

Shoppers also showed that they were more willing to make discretionary purchases this year. The percentage of people who bought jewelry over the weekend rose to 14.3% this year from 11.7% in 2009. In addition, more people purchased gift cards (24.7% of those polled), toys (33.6%), books and electronic media (42.1%) than a year ago.

Among nondiscretionary areas seeing more purchases this year  were apparel and accessories (52.7% of respondents) and food and candy (24%). The percentage stayed the same for personal care and beauty items (22.4%).

"It's certainly encouraging to see an increase in traffic and sales from the four-day holiday weekend. However, consumers still have concerns about the economy, jobs and paying down debt," stated Phil Rist, executive vice president at BIGresearch. "It was the consumers' search for deals and bargains that drove the weekend traffic rather than their confidence in the economy."

Meanwhile, the percentage of people who shopped online this Black Friday weekend surged to 33.6% this year from 28.5% in 2009, which NRF called a strong sign heading into Cyber Monday, the day after the Black Friday weekend, which is typically the biggest online shopping day of the year.

In a separate Internet shopping analysis on the Black Friday weekend, digital business analytics firm comScore said online retail spending on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 25) jumped 28% year over year to $407 million, compared with a 9% rise to $648 million on Black Friday (Nov. 26).

"Although Black Friday is known for the flurry of activity occurring in brick-and-mortar retail stores, online shopping is increasingly becoming the refuge of those preferring to avoid the crowds and long lines," commented comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. "The $648 million in online spending this Black Friday represents the heaviest online spending day of the season to date and a solid increase over last year's Black Friday. Interestingly, we are also seeing consumers beginning to buy online in a more meaningful way on Thanksgiving Day, which has historically seen low buying activity."

Four online retailers exceed 4 million U.S. unique visitors on Black Friday, with mixed results versus last year, according to comScore. Amazon was the most visited online retail property on Black Friday, growing 25% from a year ago, followed by Walmart (down 1% versus 2009), Target (up 9%) and Best Buy (up 1%).

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