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Black Friday loses sheen as weekend sales decline 11% in US

RBR Staff Writer Published 02 December 2014

Retail spending over the Thanksgiving weekend in the US registered a fall of 11% to $50.9bn, as per preliminary survey results released by the National Retail Federation (NRF).

retail sales

Data gleaned from the survey of 4,600 consumers on Friday and Saturday by NRF points to 11% decline in total spending from Thursday through Sunday from a year earlier to $50.9bn. Shoppers spent an average of $380.95, which was down 6.4% from a year earlier.

The decline is the second annual drop in a row, signalling a shift in shoppers' attitudes toward "Black Friday" rush.

NRF attributed this shift in attitude partially to the deals offered by retailers "weeks in advance," giving enough opportunities to shoppers to shop at bargain without waiting in lines on Black Friday itself.

Target started offering its first round of Black Friday deals from 10 November, while Walmart kicked off its holiday promotions at the start of the month, reports Wall Street Journal.

Walt Disney began offering promotions on items like dolls and costumes from the "Frozen" and "Star Wars" movies online and in its stores a week before Thanksgiving.

Then there are online retail giants as Amazon, which offered robust web selection and discounts to shoppers from the comfort of their homes. Even brick-and-mortar retailers stepped up their online offerings with more promotions like free shipping, rolling sales through the month and price-matching.

Most of the retailers offered the same discounts on the Web as they offered in stores. NRF survey said that online shopping accounted for 42% of spending over the four-day period, down from 44% last year, with the average amount consumers spent online declining 10% from a year ago to $159.55.

NRF believes all these factors combined together took a toll on footfalls during the crucial "Thanksgiving" weekend, with the number of people who went shopping over the four-day weekend declining 5.2% from last year to 134 million.

The trade group, however, still expects total holiday sales through the end of the year to rise 4.1%.

But the sales drop this weekend hasn't dampened the hopes of retailers.

As cited in Wall Street Journal, Abt Electronics & Appliances co-president Jon Abt said: "It's really important for us to stay out there at all times to drive business, even if that means starting the sales earlier and earlier."

Image: Retail sales. Photo courtsey of freedigitalphotos.net.