Strong start to holiday shopping season, says NRF survey

A total of 71.8% of consumers were out shopping on “Black Friday” weekend, according to the findings of a National Retail Federation (NRF) survey.

“As expected, consumers were out in full force last weekend,” said NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin. “With the economy in better shape and a little more money in consumers’ pockets, we are hopeful the momentum continues throughout the holiday season.”

The top gifts purchased this weekend included books, CDs, DVDs, videos or video games (39.3%); clothing or clothing accessories (35.6%); toys (31.6 %) and home décor or home-related furnishings (20.5%), according to the third installment of the NRF 2003 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch for NRF.

More than half of consumers have begun their holiday shopping, but they are not as far along as they were last year. According to the survey, the average consumer has completed 36.9% of their holiday shopping—last year, consumers had finished 38.7% of their shopping by Dec. 1.

Consumers purchased their holiday gifts from a variety of retailers last weekend. While 43.3% visited discounters, 29.4% purchased from department stores and 24% shopped at specialty stores. Also, as expected, many consumers are choosing to shop online this year; 31.2% of shoppers purchased holiday merchandise online over the weekend.

NRF continues to project an increase of 5.7% in holiday sales this year over last year, bringing estimated revenues of $217.4 billion this holiday season.