The National Retail Federation reported that Black Friday sales saw a boost this year compared to last, with more than 212 million shoppers visiting stores and websites over the weekend, up from 195 million last year, according to a survey the organization conducted. The average shopper spent around $365—a total that also spiked from 2009’s $343-average. Total spending hit an estimated $45 billion, reports the NRF.
"While Black Friday weekend is not always an indicator of holiday season performance, retailers should be encouraged that a focus on value and discretionary gifts has shoppers in the spirit to spend," said Matthew Shay, NRF President and CEO. "As retailers look ahead to the first few weeks of December, it will be important for them to keep momentum going with savings and incentives that holiday shoppers simply can't pass up."
If it seems like Black Friday gets earlier every year, that's because it is. Many retailers opened their doors earlier than ever, and eager shoppers followed suit. According to the survey, the number of people who began their Black Friday shopping at midnight tripled this year from 3.3% last year to 9.5% in 2010. In fact, by 4 a.m. nearly one-fourth (24.0%) of Black Friday shoppers were already at the stores. Thanksgiving Day openings have also been a boon to the industry, as the number of people who shop on Thanksgiving – both online and in stores – has doubled over the past five years, from 10.3 million in 2005 to 22.3 million in 2010.
After a holiday season of blue jeans and coffeemakers, shoppers demonstrated that they were in the mood to purchase more discretionary gifts this year. The number of people who purchased jewelry over the weekend rose substantially, from 11.7% last year to 14.3% this year. Additionally, more people purchased gift cards, toys and books and electronic entertainment than a year ago.
While shoppers seemed focused on getting good deals, items of strong value seemed to win out over the absolute lowest prices. According to the survey, both department stores (52.0% this year vs. 49.4% last year) and clothing stores (24.4% vs. 22.9%) saw healthy increases in traffic, while the percentage of people who shopped at discounters declined 7.2%, from 43.2% last year to 40.3% this year. As retailers leverage their websites to offer Black Friday prices to shoppers who don't want to fight crowds, the percentage of people who shopped online this weekend rose a healthy 15.2 percent, from 28.5% last year to 33.6% this year – a strong sign heading into Cyber Monday.