Black Friday Losing Luster, Surveys Say

Black Friday was not the huge retail bonanza it’s been in past years, with several surveys showing a marked drop in both traffic and sales.

ShopperTrak found that traffic on the day after Thanksgiving fell 5.6 percent, and overall sales tumbled 6.8 percent. Thanksgiving shopping seems to have gobbled up a good bit of that action, with turkey-day store visits jumping 27.3 percent.

Similar to ShopperTrak, the National Retail Federation recorded a 5.5 percent drop in Black Friday traffic—the first fall its found since 2006. Overall, Thanksgiving weekend traffic decreased 5.2 percent, and sales plunged a stark 11.3 percent. Average spend fell 6.4 percent to $380.95. 

Some 15 percent of shoppers splurged on jewelry, NRF found—perhaps because it was the most-discounted category at major retailers.

Department stores came out the biggest winners this year, with half of shoppers heading to them over the weekend. But many consumers opted to spend the day at their computers instead of fighting the mall crowds, with 42 percent of shopping dollars spent online. 

Among shoppers who did venture out last weekend, two-thirds did so on Black Friday. Only one-third spent their Thanksgiving at a retailer, about the same as last year, the NRF said—a markedly different finding from ShopperTrak. More than half (51.8 percent) looked for holiday gifts on Saturday—with three-quarters doing so to support Small Business Saturday. (See complete NRF survey.)

Even if the season’s traditional kickoff may not have been a barn burner, Bill Martin, founder of ShopperTrak, reminds retailers that Black Friday underperformed the rest of the season last year, and that the biggest shopping days—particularly “Super Saturday” right before Christmas—are yet to come. 

Tomorrow: JCK talks to jewelers about their Black Friday results


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JCK News Director