Thanksgiving and Black Friday generated $12.3 billion in sales
Thanksgiving night shopping looked like a new family tradition this year as stores opened earlier and consumers took advantage of the extra time to spread out their Black Friday shopping.
The Thursday-through-Sunday tally, though, was less buying overall, according to data from several firms.
Thanksgiving and Black Friday combined brought in an estimated $12.3 billion in sales, according to shopping analytics firm ShopperTrak. Thanksgiving Day traffic grew 27% as nearly one-third of shoppers headed to stores on the holiday, according to the National Retail Federation. Many retailers opened earlier than ever, some at 5 or 6 p.m. Kmart opened at 6 a.m.
"Probably the most interesting is the amount of energy the consumer put into Thursday shopping," says Bill Martin, founder of ShopperTrak. "The retailers did a good job getting them up from the dinner table and into stores."
Overall spending was expected to reach $57.4 billion for the weekend, according to the retail federation. That's down from $59.1 billion last year.
Thanksgiving and Black Friday fell a week later in the season this year, leading stores to push pre-Black Friday deals and shifting consumer spending earlier. On average, shoppers would spend about $407 Thursday through Sunday, compared with about $423 in 2012, the retailers group found in a survey of nearly 4,500 shoppers conducted Friday and Saturday.
Online retailers continue to gain ground. Including online traffic, Black Friday is still the biggest day of the weekend. The retail federation reported that 92 million people shopped, up from 89 million last year. Nearly half went online on Black Friday, according to the retailers' survey, while traffic at brick-and-mortar stores was down more than 11% on that day, ShopperTrak found.
Tablets and smartphones especially drove online business. Website traffic from those devices was up from last year nearly 90% for tablets and about 66% for smartphones, according to e-commerce firm Monetate, which analyzed data from tens of millions of online shopping sessions. The average online order was up more than 18% on Black Friday to about $172, Monetate found, and e-commerce revenue was up nearly 40% on Thanksgiving compared with last year.
Tablets and big-screen TVs were two of the most popular purchases online, says Howard Schaffer, vice president of Offers.com, which aggregates online deals and coupons.
"Tablets were super-hot this year, which is really no surprise to anybody," he says. "Obviously the iPad did extremely well."
A deal from Best Buy on an iPad mini for $249.99, down from $299, "went out of stock very quickly," Schaffer says. An offer of 30% off from the Ugg footwear company also "did extremely well," he says.
Gifts weren't the only purchases. Taubman Centers, which operates 28 regional shopping centers, issued a report saying shoppers started buying for themselves on Saturday; outerwear and footwear were popular categories. Deals on appliances also encouraged self-gifting, Schaffer says.
"Sears had 50% off select appliances," he says. "That did really well, and a lot of that has to do with: Christmas is right around the corner, consumers have family coming in, they want the house up to date and nice, so they get appliances now because it's a great value."
Overall, the weekend encouraged social shopping and appears to be evolving into a holiday tradition for families and young adults. Those ages 18-34 shopped the most over the weekend, according to the National Retail Federation. And the earlier Thanksgiving hours allowed parents and kids to shop together.
One couple even used the occasion to get engaged, says Mikael Thygesen, chief marketing officer for Simon Property Group, which operates more than 340 retail properties across the country. A man proposed to his girlfriend at Bay Park Square mall — a Simon property — in Green Bay, Wis., about 2 a.m. Friday.
"The social shopping aspect was in full force," Thygese says. "Families were sort of extending their family time together by coming out to the mall and taking advantage of the early opening, and teens and Millennials were getting together. There was a lot of group shopping."