Sunday, November 29, 2009

'Black Friday', Not So Black After All

Black Friday is meant to be the one day a year that most retailers can finally get their number into the "black", however it appears as though this year might not have been as profitable as most had hoped.

The early numbers indicate sales increased slightly over last year but the numbers weren't as good as most companies wished for. According to the National Retail Federation roughly 195 million consumers waded through heavy traffic to shop in stores and online over the Black Friday weekend. Those numbers are nearly 23million from the 172 million last year. But in a reversal average spending dropped to $343.31 per person from $372.57 a year ago.

The increase in traffic did however lead to an overall increase in sales, just not as much as most had expected. ShopperTrak, which measures traffic and sales in 500,000 locations across the country, said it estimated Black Friday in-store sales at $10.66 billion, versus $10.606 billion on Black Friday 2008, an increase of just 0.5 percent.

Overall sales for the four-day weekend totaled $41.2 billion, up marginally from $41 billion last year, the NRF estimated. The trade group bases its figures on a survey, conducted Thursday through Saturday, of roughly 5,000 consumers and includes a projection for Sunday.

“Shoppers proved this weekend that they were willing to open their wallets for a bargain, heading out to take advantage of great deals on less expensive items like toys, small appliances and winter clothes,” said Tracy Mullin, NRF President and CEO. “While retailers are encouraged by the number of Americans who shopped over Black Friday weekend, they know they have their work cut out for them to keep people coming back through Christmas. Shoppers can continue to expect retailers to focus on low prices and bargains through the end of December.”

The lower than expect spending levels showed that most consumers in this tight economy are being more bargain conscious leaving the high ticket items on the shelves and reach for more discretionary items.

According to the survey, nearly one-third (32.2%) of shoppers purchased toys, an increase of 12.9 percent from last year. Additionally, more people purchased sporting goods (12.6% vs. 11.4% last year), personal care or beauty items (22.4% vs. 19.0%) and gift cards (21.2% vs. 18.7%).

In a surprising reversal of trends this year more shopper chose to visit retail stores or department stores over online shopping. The favorite amongst shoppers being department stores, with nearly half (49.4%) of holiday shoppers visiting at least one, a 12.9% increase from last year. Experian Hitwise reported that compared to a year ago traffic to retail web sites was down 9%, though traffic to Black Friday-themed web sites was up 9% compared to last year.

ComScore reported Black Friday saw $595 million in online sales, making it the second heaviest online spending day to date in 2009 and representing an 11-percent increase versus Black Friday 2008.

For the second straight year was the most visited Web site on Black Friday receiving 13.55% of top retail traffic in the U.S., followed by Wal-Mart with 11.18%, Target with 5.65%, Best Buy with 4.62%, and Sears with 2.95%.

As for Black Friday themed sites, comScore studied eight Black Friday deal sites for the five days ending Black Friday (Nov. 23-27) compared to the corresponding days last year, finding that led the pack with 3.9 million unique visitors, up 4 percent versus last year. followed with 3.5 million visitors, while (up 136 percent to 2.3 million visitors) showed the fastest growth.

With the weekend nearly over, and most of the BF deals behind us its time to look towards Cyber Monday.

According to a BIGresearch survey funded by the NRF, 96.5 million Americans plan to shop on Cyber Monday this year, up from 85 million in 2008. About 87.1 percent of retailers plan to hold special Cyber Monday sales, an increase from 83.7 percent last year.

Several sites including,, and posted their Cyber Monday deals early. With several other sites starting the sales as early as midnight on Sunday. A few great place to track the best Cyber Monday deals include, and

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