Holiday Sales on Track Amid Online Boost

30 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Black Friday brought in 151M, most online: NRF survey.

REUTERS: U.S. holiday shopping is on track for a modest 3.7 percent rise this year after strong turnout during the Thanksgiving and Black Friday weekend and thanks to strong online sales, the National Retail Federation said on Sunday after releasing an annual consumer poll. The closely watched survey said that about 151 million people shopped either in stores and/or online over the long weekend in the United States, when many consumers look to take advantage of promotions.

But its broad conclusions added to other research showing that in-store shopping was about the same as a year ago and that online shopping had jumped, putting total sales ahead of last year. The NRF’s sentiment survey, which are not based on actual retailer’s results, said the number of people shopping exceeded their mid-November survey, when the organization estimated 136 million would shop over Thanksgiving weekend. That used to mean queuing up in the bracing cold late Thursday night after Thanksgiving into early Friday morning and — in some cases — literally fighting for the best offers. NRF changed its survey methodology this year to account for shifts in online and mobile shopper behavior and most of the results are not comparable to previous years.

But the 2015 figures underline how American consumers are changing to get their holiday shopping fix — nearly 102 million shopped in stores and more than 103 million shopped online this year. “We recognize the experience is much different than it used to be as just as many people want that unique, exclusive online deal as they do that in-store promotion,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “It is clear that the age-old holiday tradition of heading out to stores with family and friends is now equally matched in the new tradition of looking online for holiday savings opportunities.” Accurate comparisons cannot be made between this year and last because the poll by Prosper Insights & Analytics for the NRF used a different methodology than in 2014. The growth of e-commerce — including people using their smartphones to buy gifts — helped boost the total number of U.S. shoppers to more than 151 million over the weekend. A separate NRF survey found that more than 121 million shoppers, or about 49.5 percent of consumers, plan to shop online on so-called Cyber Monday, which takes place on November 30 this year. He said retail executives he had spoken to were generally pleased with how the weekend went. “Consumers are in a good place to get us to a very good holiday season,” Shay said on a conference call. “I think we are in a very good place based on the results of the last few days to be right in that range.” Discount sellers such as TJ Maxx and Ross Stores Inc , as well as J C Penney Co Inc and Toys R Us Inc performed well, said analyst Burt Flickinger, whose Strategic Resource Group surveyed shoppers all weekend.

Evidence is mounting that consumers are gravitating toward mobile to avoid what retail tracking firm ShopperTrak noted was a “social stigma” associated with Black Friday. Meanwhile, a growing number of retailers are offering deals in advance of Thanksgiving, and shoppers are taking advantage of those—thus depriving the two day shopping extravaganza of some of its importance. According to one estimate, the two days garnered $12.1 billion in sales, says ShopperTrak, which tracks shopper visits at more than 1,200 retailers, malls and entertainment venues. Separately, data from analytics firm RetailNext showed overall sales for both days fell 1.5 percent as customer traffic flattened, pushing down average spending per shopper by 1.4 percent.

The new survey also specifies it is asking about the Thanksgiving weekend, while the previous poll does not appear to have been as clear, said Ramesh Swamy, a long-time retail analyst and executive vice president of retailer Curacao. “It is important that the methodology for the 2015 survey has changed dramatically,” Goodfellow said. “It’s like comparing this year’s apple to last year’s orange. Separate research released on Sunday by analytics firm comScore showed that spending through desktop computers rose 9 percent to US$1.1 billion on Thanksgiving Day and increased 10 percent on Black Friday to US$1.66 billion.

As more shopping shifts to the Web, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp. and other traditional retailers are doing their best to ward off the e-commerce king: Amazon.com Inc.

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