Black Friday sales up just 2.3%
And that's with Thanksgiving day added to Friday's blowout.
How "black" retailers books are going to look is the real question. Prior to Black Friday, most big box retailers were bemoaning the fact that in order to get people in the stores, they used deeply discounted items. Typically, shoppers cherry pick the sale items and ignore the rest, reducing margins.
Retailers offered more and steeper deals on merchandise from flat-screen televisions to crockpots that, while luring shoppers, may ultimately hurt fourth-quarter earnings. Many consumers showed up prepared to zero in on their favored items while shunning the impulse buys that help retailers' profits.
"You could get the same deals online as you could get in the store, and yet there were still a ton of people out there," Charles O'Shea, a senior analyst at Moody's Investors Service in New York, said in an interview. Going out to stores, "is part of the experience," he said.
About 97 million people planned to shop online or in stores on Friday, with about 140 million intending to do so Thanksgiving through Sunday, the National Retail Federation said. That's down from 147 million last year.
With more stores opening on Thanksgiving, sales were pulled forward from Friday, Bill Martin, ShopperTrak's founder, said in a telephone interview. Sales on Friday fell 13.2 percent from last year, with foot traffic down 11.4 percent. Foot traffic for the combined Thanksgiving-Black Friday period rose 2.8 percent to more than 1.07 billion store visits, ShopperTrak said.
"The consumers really responded to Thursday's openings, actually more than anybody anticipated," Martin said.
Jennifer Doval had an easier time getting to the stores for her Black Friday shopping this year at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.
"It's just quiet -- I don't know if it's because it was open yesterday," Doval, a 42-year-old stay-at-home mother from nearby Edina, said on Friday while shopping for clothes for her 12-year-old daughter and gifts for her parents. She arrived at 7 a.m. and was "shocked how empty the parking ramps were.'
The surge in Thanksgiving day sales is bad news - for the family. It' bad enough leaving hearth and home on a family holiday to go on a shopping binge. But working on Thanksgiving? That's the pits. There was a lot of sentiment like that expressed before the holiday and it's possible that some towns and cities will force retailers to close up entirely on Thanksgiving.