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Shopping traffic up on Black Friday - NRF Survey
01
Dec '08
Though the holiday season is far from over, retailers across the country are breathing a collective sigh of relief after shoppers headed to stores and websites in droves over the weekend. According to the National Retail Federation's 2008 Black Friday Weekend survey, conducted by BIGresearch, more than 172 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend, up from 147 million shoppers last year.

Shoppers spent an average of $372.57 this weekend, up 7.2 percent over last year's $347.55. Total spending reached an estimated $41.0 billion.

"Pent-up demand on electronics and clothing, plus unparalleled bargains on this season's hottest items helped drive shopping all weekend," said NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin. "Holiday sales are not expected to continue at this brisk pace, but it is encouraging that Americans seem excited to go shopping again."

Friday was clearly the busiest day of the weekend with 73.6 million people hitting stores and websites for doorbuster sales. Though traffic did subside after Friday, retailers were also buoyed by two-day sales as 56.9 million people shopped on Saturday, up from 48.3 million last year, while another 26.2 million people planned to shop on Sunday. Thanksgiving Day also continues to increase in importance as the number of people who shopped on Thursday was up 48 percent over last year (16.2 million people vs. 10.9 million people).

Those who shopped on Friday lived by the adage that the early bird catches the worm. The survey found that 23.3 percent of shoppers were at stores by 5 a.m. while more than half (57.6%) were at stores by 9 a.m.

Bargains appeared to be so good that people have more of a jumpstart on shopping. According to the findings, Americans have completed more slightly shopping than they had one year ago (39.3% vs. 36.4%), indicating that traffic and sales over the next several weeks will moderate.

"Though retailers should be encouraged by strong traffic and sales over the weekend, consumers are still being cautious," said Phil Rist, Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, BIGresearch. "Weekend shoppers indicated that they are still sticking to a budget and thinking carefully before making any holiday purchases."

Though retailers in all categories were featuring big bargains, a majority of shoppers visited discount stores for holiday deals. According to the survey, more than half (54.7%) of this weekend's shoppers visited discount stores. Nearly half (43.0%) shopped at a traditional department store, up 11.1 percent from 38.7 percent last year. About one-third of shoppers visited specialty stores like clothing or electronics stores (36.0%) and shopped online (34.0%).

As expected, many shoppers (50.9%) purchased clothing and accessories over the weekend while 39.0 percent bought books, DVDs, CDs and video games and 35.9 percent purchased consumer electronics. Toys were also big sellers, as 28.5percent of shoppers bought a toy. Gift card purchasing dropped ten percent with 18.7 percent of shoppers purchasing a gift card over the weekend, down from 21.0 percent last year.

NRF continues to project that holiday sales will rise 2.2 percent this year to $470.4 billion.

National Retail Federation

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