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Thanksgiving Snatches Black Friday Sales

Thanksgiving could become the next big shopping day as successful Thursday sales this year stole business from Black Friday. With added promotions and earlier store openings Thanksgiving Day, many shoppers headed out post-turkey to beat the Black Friday rush.

According to data released Saturday by research firm ShopperTrak, which provides shopper analytics to retailers, in-store sales for Black Friday fell 13.2% compared to last year.

In a follow-up ShopperTrak report released today, the research firm reported a 1% increase in brick-and-mortar retail sales as shoppers spent an estimated total of $22.2 billion across the four-day “Black Weekend.” Retail shopper traffic decreased by 4%, to an estimated 1.8 billion store visits.

Sales started out strong on Thursday with sales accounting for 10% of the weekend’s retail traffic, then lost steam Friday and tapered off as the holiday weekend progressed. While overall combined sales for Thanksgiving and Black Friday were up 2.3% from last year, with customers spending $12.3 billion over the two days, ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin, said, “The Black Friday shopping experience is changing with more shoppers choosing to go out on Thanksgiving Day.” He added that as retailers had spread deals out over the month of November, shoppers paced their holiday spending and there was less urgency to get into stores early Friday morning, thus contributing to the decrease in the rest of the weekend’s shopper traffic.

Martin added that the official start of the holiday shopping season is increasingly evolving as more consumers turn to the web for pre-shopping product research and look to follow their findings with efficient in-store purchases.

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Some stores, like Macy’s and Kohl’s, opened for the first time on Thanksgiving at 8 p.m. and others, like Walmart were open all day with the first round of sales starting at 6 p.m. Store traffic on Thanksgiving Day was up 27% over last year as close to 45 million shoppers came out for early deals, according to a survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics released Sunday for the National Retail Federation (NRF).

The survey showed that 25.4% of holiday shoppers were in stores by 8 p.m. Thanksgiving night and 37.3% were buying gifts by midnight, up from 28% last year. For those who chose not to shop on the holiday, more than one-third (35.8%) didn’t arrive in stores until 10 a.m. or later on Friday.

Average spending for “Black Weekend” was down to $407.02 from $423.55 last year, a dip NRF attributes to lower prices, aggressive discounts, and, as Martin mentioned, consumers who started their holiday shopping earlier in November. Of the money customers allocated to holiday shopping, 43.7% was spent online.

Despite dips in Black Friday sales and spending, the frenzied shopping day still drew 92 million shoppers, up from 89 million last year, and managed to maintain its status as the biggest shopping day of 2013, according to NRF.

Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO explained that, “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.” As for the remainder of the shopping season, Shay said, “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.”