A recent survey shows in-store retail sales on Black Friday, the “busiest shopping day”, dropped from last year.
Holiday shoppers spent $11.2 billion at stores across the US this Black Friday, down 1.8% from last year, according to a Saturday report from the Chicago-based retail technology company ShopperTrak.
Those lower in-store sales figures were apparently impacted by hundreds of thousands of shoppers hitting stores on Thursday (Gray Thursday) evening after filling up on turkey and stuffing.
“Black Friday shopping continues to expand into Thanksgiving Day and will impact the way we look at all of the <<Black>> weekend results, since more shopping hours allows for more shopping visits and a smoothing of sales across all of the days,” said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin.
Big chain outlets including Sears, Target, Toys R Us and Walmart opened their doors as early as 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
A sharp rise in online shopping likely added to the drop in spending at brick-and-mortar stores this year.
E-commerce sales rose 17.4% on Thanksgiving and 20.7% on Black Friday, compared with last year, according to a recent IBM survey.
A recent survey shows in-store retail sales on 2012 Black Friday dropped from last year
Still, ShopperTrak said Black Friday foot traffic increased 3.5% this year to more than 307.67 million store visits – a sign that more people were browsing store shelves, if not making actual purchases.
“Black Friday continues to be an important day in retail,” Bill Martin said.
“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.”
ShopperTrak estimated that foot traffic increased the most in the Midwest, up 12.9% compared with last year.
Foot traffic in the Northeast increased the least compared with last year, up 7.6% in regions that include those hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy.
ShopperTrak, which counts sales numbers from 25,000 retail outlets across the US, had forecast that Black Friday sales would grow 3.8% this year.
A separate survey from the National Retail Federation says holiday spending on both days combined will likely rise 4% this year.
Some positive signs of spending growth have been in the news in the past few months. U.S. consumer confidence rose to 72.2 in October, its highest level since February 2008 and up from 40.9 a year ago.
Yet many consumers are still worried about the slow economic recovery, high unemployment rates and a looming fiscal cliff.
Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year, with customers queuing for days and sometimes even resorting to violence in order to get their hands on the best deals.
But the post-Thanksgiving sales may not in fact be the best time to snap up low-priced merchandise, according to a new analysis.
Researchers found that around a third of products advertised as being on sale for the holiday have been available at lower prices earlier this year.
More people than ever before are expected to abandon the tradition of family time and head to stores to get a head-start on Christmas shopping or treat themselves to cut-price gadgets.
This year, the consumer frenzy has even spread to Thanksgiving Day itself – redubbed “Gray Thursday” – with a number of major retailers opening as early as 8p.m. to attract those who are keen to leave the house after a day of turkey and television.
In the past, the Black Friday sales have resulted in riots as customers compete to snap up limited bargains – but for many shoppers, the threat of violence is apparently worth it for the prospect of uniquely good-value deals.
However, an analysis by the Wall Street Journal and Decide Inc. has revealed that many products popular on Black Friday are actually available cheaper at other times.
Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year, with customers queuing for days and sometimes even resorting to violence in order to get their hands on the best deals
They surveyed more than 500 “doorbuster” bargains which have been promoted by stores such as Sears and Best Buy, and concluded that nearly a third had been sold for a lower price earlier this year.
The fact that Black Friday is not always the cheapest time to go shopping is not surprising, according to McKinsey’s Rob Docters, who suggested that many customers assume that the best bargains are available then without bothering to check prices on specific items.
“People associate Black Friday with good prices, and that eliminates the need to check price,” he told the Journal.
Sears is advertising the KitchenAid Series Stand Mixer at the special price of $319.99 this holiday season.
But in March, the same device was on sale at Sears for $296, according to Decide.
A spokesman insisted: “Our advertised prices are competitive.”
At Home Depot, a GE Adora dishwasher is advertised for $598, said to be a saving of $151.
But a Columbus Day offer in October pushed the price down to $538.
The company claims that the majority of its Black Friday deals are the best bargains of the year.
Other deals work out as uniquely cheap only when you include the value of gift cards given away with some items.
Experts told MarketWatch that while some items, such as gadgets and white goods, are particularly good bargains on Black Friday, customers should hold off for other purchases.
Winter clothing and linens, for example, tend to be cheapest in January as stores clear out their stock in preparation for spring.
And those hunting for deals on luxury goods such as jewellery are likely to be disappointed – retailers like Tiffany’s are too worried about the blow to their high-end image to offer any sort of Black Friday bargains.