Black Friday Shoppers Go Online

Published on November 30, 2009 | Comments: 0
While brick-and-mortar retail sales rose slightly on the traditional day-after-Thanksgiving “Black Friday” holiday shopping kickoff, online sales experienced a substantially higher increase.

Traffic Boosts Brick-and-Mortar Sales Totals

According to retail data analysis firm ShopperTrak RCT Corporation, U.S. in-store retail sales on Friday, November 27, 2009 grew 0.5% compared to Friday, November 28, 2008 (the day after Thanksgiving 2008). In dollar figures, Black Friday spending increased from $10.606 billion in 2008 to $10.66 billion in 009. However, Black Friday 2008 featured a 3% growth rate from Black Friday 2007, when brick-and-mortar spending totaled approximately $10.3 billion. ShopperTrak said Black Friday store traffic was heavy early in the morning, when retailers offered extra-steep “doorbuster” discounts, and gradually tapered off during the day. The company predicts further traffic analysis will demonstrate that strong customer traffic early on Saturday, November 28 fell off later in the day and continued weakening on Sunday, November 29. The National Retail Federation (NRF) says heavier customer traffic helped compensate for a decline in average Black Friday spending per customer. According to the NRF, a total of 195 million customers visited stores between Thursday, November 26 and Sunday, November 29. This represents a 13.3% increase from the 172 million brick-and-mortar customers the NRF tracked during the equivalent four-day period last year. However, the NRF says average spending per customer dropped 7.8%, from $372.57 in 2008 to $343.31 in 2009. The NRF estimates total Black Friday weekend spending this year at $41.2 billion, a 0.4% increase from $41 billion last year.

Black Friday E-commerce Sales Soar

As opposed to slightly improved brick-and-mortar sales, e-commerce sales substantially grew on Black Friday this year. According to digital marketing intelligence firm comScore, U.S. consumers spent $595 million online during Black Friday 2009. This was an 11% increase from $534 million spent online during Black Friday 2008. comScore tracked five retailers as having more than 4 million unique visitors to their sites on Black Friday this year. In order of popularity, they were Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, Apple.com, Target, and Best Buy. In terms of growth in unique online visitors compared to last year, Apple.com reported 39%, followed by Amazon (28%), Best Buy (24%), Wal-Mart (22%), and Target (2%).

Black Friday Performance Follows Holiday Sales Predictions

If Black Friday is an accurate bellwether for the entire 2009 holiday shopping season, then a general consensus this will be a flat year overall with online growth should prove accurate. Major research firms including The Nielsen Company, Retail Forward, and Deloitte are all forecasting flat holiday sales this year. The NRF is predicting a 1% decline. However, some research suggests e-commerce will be a bright spot for holiday sales in 2009. According to the November 2009 American Express Spending and Saving Tracker, the internet will be a popular resource for holiday shoppers this year. Seventy-nine percent of overall respondents plan to use the internet as a tool for holiday shopping, 45% plan to purchase items online, 28% will use the internet to buy hard-to-find items, 27% will use the internet for product research, and 25% will go online for gift ideas. The 2009 Holiday Forecast from comparison shopping site PriceGrabber.com corroborates these findings. PriceGrabber’s research indicates 70% of consumers plan to save money by performing research and comparison shopping online this year, compared to 38% last year. And according to the Deloitte 24th Annual Holiday Survey, 19% of consumers plan to access the internet via their mobile phones while shopping to find store locations, obtain coupons and sales information, as well as research products and prices. This percentage rose to 39% in the 18 to 29 age group.

Chart: Black Friday Sales

Black Friday retail sales, in-store and e-commerce.
Tags: Research, Signs of What's to Come, E-Commerce, Multi-channel Retailing
Black Friday Sales
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