Online Spending Up. In-Store Spending Down

30 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

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

The Thanksgiving weekend saw more than 151 million bargain hungry consumers open up their wallets to make purchases either on the Internet or in physical stores, the National Retail Federation said on Sunday. 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. 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. 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.

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. The federation’s chief executive, Matthew Shay, said big shifts in consumer behavior made Black Friday weekend sales less of a bellwether for holiday spending, or for the state of the American consumer. “Shopping has changed and the consumer has changed and retailers have changed,” Shay said. “Retailers are heavily promoting starting the day after Halloween.” Meanwhile, there is “a broad and deep expectation” among shoppers that sales and promotions will continue far beyond Black Friday, and less of an imperative to spend over the weekend, Shay said. 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. 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. On Saturday, ShopperTrak’s preliminary figures estimated combined retail sales of $12.1 billion over Thanksgiving and Black Friday, a projected decrease from the comparable year-ago period.

The NRF said that its survey of 4,281 consumers, conducted on Nov. 27 and Nov. 28 by research firm Prosper Insights & Analytics, showed that shoppers on average spent about US$300 over the four-day weekend through Sunday. 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.

A more accurate measure of holiday spending will not be available until the Department of Commerce releases retail spending figures next month for November, and for December in January. Prosper Principal Analyst Pam Goodfellow noted that the question on spending in the new survey offered suggestions on what types of products it wanted feedback on like home decor and apparel, reducing the possibility that shoppers would include spending on food in their answers.

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.

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