Shoppers out in record numbers for Black Friday weekend

A record 247 million shoppers visited US stores and websites over Black Friday weekend, up from 226 million last year, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

The NRF said the average holiday shopper spent $423 this weekend, up from $398 million last year, with total spending reaching an estimated $59.1 billion.

Some 57.7% of shoppers bought clothing and clothing accessories over the weekend, with 53.5% visiting department stores, and 29% visiting clothing stores.

Approximately 40.7% of total weekend spending was done online, up from 37.8% last year, with the average consumer spending $172.42 online.

“From green beans to great deals, millions of Americans found time this Thanksgiving to make the most of retailers’ promotions and enjoy a special family holiday,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay.

“To keep their customers excited about holiday shopping, retailers will continue to offer attractive promotions through December, and provide strong consumer value with low prices, enhanced mobile and online offerings, and unique product assortment.”

ShopperTrak data said that retail foot traffic rose 3.5% to more than 307.67 store visits, but said retail sales declined 1.8%, with shoppers spending an estimated total of $11.2 billion on Friday.

“Black Friday continues to be an important day in retail,” said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder. “This year, though, more retailers than last year began their ‘doorbuster’ deals on Thursday, Thanksgiving itself. So while foot traffic did increase on Friday, those Thursday deals attracted some of the spending that’s usually meant for Friday.”

Retail Metrics president Ken Perkins attributed the softer sales growth reported by ShopperTrak this year may be down to “pre-Black Friday sales early in November” which was likely to have pulled some sales forward.

“A number of retailers started offering Black Friday prices online at the start of last week, which also probably had the effect of pulling forward some sales. Earlier Thanksgiving night openings siphoned sales away from Black Friday into what is now being called Gray Thursday. Additionally, more consumers are shopping online on Black Friday as early deals were widely available. Online retailers sent customers an average of 5.9 promotional emails in the seven days prior to Black Friday in a concerted effort to generate sales and gain share from brick and mortar stores.”

He said that discounts this year looked comparable with last year, so added promotions were not as prevalent. “‘Door Busters’ were not as prevalent, especially in apparel stores. Abercrombie and American Eagle, for instance, ran 40% off entire store events that may have taken away from urgency to get into stores for early morning deals,” said Perkins.

According to Perkins, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Express, Urban Outfitters, American Eagle, Abercrombie & Fitch, Target, The Gap and Sears all got off to very strong starts, with Macy’s, Express, American Eagle, Wal-Mart and Kohl’s all looking to carry strong sales traffic from Friday into Saturday.

Retailers that were likely to have had a soft Black Friday weekend included Guess, Ann Taylor, Pacific Sunwear, Wet Seal and Aeropostale, said Perkins.

For more fashion and apparel industry news, go to just-style.com

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