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Black Friday in Review: The Winners, The Losers, The Dollars and the Deals

The Black Friday results are rolling in, and so far it seems like business as it has been it retail: consumers capitalized on the best deals, Millennials spent the most money and department stores underperformed.

Though some stats had pointed to a dampened Black Friday, consensus among analysts now seems to show that the holiday shopping weekend packed a positive punch for retail.

“All the fundamentals were in place for consumers to take advantage of incredible deals and promotions retailers had to offer,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “From good weather across the country to low unemployment and strong consumer confidence, the climate was right, literally and figuratively, for consumers to tackle their holiday shopping lists online and in stores.”

Black Friday by the numbers

According to the National Retail Federation’s report out Tuesday, more than 174 million Americans shopped either in stores or online over the holiday weekend, up from 164 million last year. That’s 96 percent of weekend shoppers who purchased something over the five day spree, and they spent an average of $335. Millennials (25 to 34 years old) spent the most, at $419.52.

Black Friday was the most popular shopping day for in-store spending (77 million consumers shopped that day), with Small Business Saturday coming in second (55 million consumers). For online buys, Cyber Monday was the biggest draw (81 million consumers), followed by Black Friday (66 million).

Sixty-four million shoppers said they shopped both online and in-store, 51 million went the physical route, and 58 million were loyal to online only. According to NRF, the multichannel shopper spent an average of $82 more than the online only shopper, and $49 more than those who only bought in stores.

[Read more about Black Friday: Black Friday Foot Traffic Dims Slightly, but Online Sales Set All-Time High]

Lending proof to the premise that Thanksgiving Day shopping may not become as much of a draw as retailers who opted to open had hoped, NRF said 11 percent of consumers started spending before 5:00 p.m. on Turkey Day and another 11 percent after 6:00 p.m., compared to 25 percent who started shopping at 10:00 a.m. or later on Black Friday and 49 percent of consumers who started shopping early Cyber Monday morning.

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Digital appears to have been the biggest winner in the spending frenzy.

In its own report out Tuesday, Adobe Digital Insights said online sales from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday came in just under $20 billion, a 15.2% jump year over year, with mobile representing 33.1% of that online spend.

Cyber Monday set a record for the largest online shopping day in history, according to Adobe, with $6.59 billion in sales (in the U.S. that is, because Alibaba raked in $25.3 billion in China on 11.11, or Singles Day, alone). Black Friday brought in $5.03 billion and Thanksgiving Day, $2.87 billion.

The art of the deal

The promotional market has been a haven for consumers, and many have been trained not to buy without a discount—a mentality that also drove their Black Friday moves.

“The survey showed that shoppers were in the mood to find great deals,” NRF said. “Among those who spent, 60 percent said the majority of their purchases were driven primarily by sales, and 48 percent said deals were better than earlier in the season.”

In its own data, Salesforce said Black Friday discounts averaged 28 percent off.

More than just the percentage off, was the fact that the overwhelming number of purchases made over the weekend were sold with a deal.

According to data from DynamicAction, shoppers were rewarded with discounts and deals everywhere they turned.

“In fact, 90 percent of online orders were placed using a promotional code on Cyber Monday this year, and an average 88 percent of orders used a promotion over Cyber Weekend (Thanksgiving Day-Cyber Monday),” DynamicAction CMO Sarah Engel said in a briefing Tuesday.

The winners and the losers

Whether surprising or not, NRF said department stores were the top shopping destinations, with 43 percent of consumers heading there, followed by 42 percent who cited the Internet as their top shopping destination. Electronic stores came third with 32 percent of shoppers heading there, and 31 percent of shoppers went to clothing and accessories stores.

Clothing, however, topped the charts when it came to most popular gifts purchased, with 58 percent of consumers indicating they designated their dollars there.

Diving deeper into the data, location data company Skyhook tapped into its database of 10,107 stores across Walmart, Target, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Best Buy and Sears, and found that the discounters outperformed the department stores. The company said it chose this set of stores since they compete with Amazon.

[Read more about Amazon on Black Friday: Amazon Snags Half of All Black Friday Sales]

“Even though they participated in Black Friday deals, Macy’s Sears and Kohl’s didn’t get nearly as many visits as Walmart, Target and Best Buy,” Skyhook said referencing Thanksgiving Day traffic. “While there were still more visits on Black Friday than during the previous Friday, there were significantly less visits to Walmart, Target and Best Buy on Black Friday than there were on Thanksgiving. Interestingly, Macy’s, Kohl’s and Sears all saw around the same number of visits during both days of the holiday week and more than the both days the week prior.”

“Overall, there was significantly more visits at these brick and mortar stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday than the previous week. A lot of shoppers wanted to get the most out of the sales and lined up outside prior to store openings on Thanksgiving. Overall visits peaked as the stores were opening that evening as opposed to on Black Friday as some may have expected,” Skyhook noted in Black Friday blog post. “Even though online sales may appear to be the holy grail for shoppers, retail certainly isn’t dead and shoppers still like to shop in-store to get the best bang for their buck.”

Adding to that, The NPD Group’s Marshal Cohen said citing stats from the market research firm’s partner, CivicScience, that Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday were a “mixed bag” and that traffic was neither stellar nor consistent from store to store.

“While Thanksgiving week and Black Friday proved to be more important this year, it’s clear the holiday season is just getting warmed up. Through the week ending the Sunday after Thanksgiving, 52 percent of shoppers hadn’t started their holiday shopping yet, which is ahead of 2016 results for the same week, and in line with 2015 results,” Cohen said. “As expected, Holiday 2017 is shaping up to be less like last year, and more like two years ago, meaning last minute procrastination will be less of a factor this year.”

Looking at inventory, DynamicAction said retailers are well positioned to make it through the season without stockouts, and the discounts are expected to continue, too.

“The value of inventory retailers found themselves holding in-stock was up 34 percent over Cyber Weekend last year and up 43 percent on Cyber Monday 2017 versus 2016,” Engel said. “With inventory to move before the holiday season concludes, retailers are showing no signs of pulling back on discounts and deals in the weeks ahead.”