Black Friday Weekend Sales Climb 12.8% Over 2011


Stores opening in the wee small hours of Black Friday morning (plus a few pushing back into Thanksgiving evening) may have stolen some of the thunder from Black Friday itself, but the weekend as a whole gave retailers plenty of reasons to smile. Total spending in stores and online is estimated at $59.1 billion, a healthy 12.8% increase over the $52.4 billion spent during the same period in 2011.

According to a survey by BIGinsight for the National Retail Federation, 247 million U.S. shoppers visited stores and websites over the holiday weekend, compared to 226 million in 2011. Shoppers spent on average $423, 6.3% more than the $398 they shelled out last year. On Thanksgiving Day, 35 million shoppers visited the stores that were open that day or shopped online, compared to 29 million who did so in 2011.

Foot traffic, as measured by ShopperTrak, also increased on Black Friday, rising 3.5% to reach 307.67 million store visits.

There's also further evidence that the concept of "Cyber Monday" as a discrete day for online shopping is being inexorably dragged toward the Trash Bin icon. E-commerce sales were strong over the entire holiday weekend, and in fact have been showing double-digit increases over last year for the entire month of November.

According to comScore, online sales on Black Friday itself were $1.042 billion, 26% higher than the same day in 2011. Apparently not everyone was cooking turkey, eating and watching football on Thanksgiving: enough people were shopping to ring up $633 million in online sales, a 32% jump over last year. For the full November 1-23 period, $13.7 billion in online sales represents a 16% climb over the $11.8 billion sold during the same period in 2011.

In an exact repeat of 2011, the most-visited sites, according to comScore, were:
1) Amazon
2) Walmart
3) Best Buy
4) Target
5) Apple

The Chase Holiday Pulse reported a Black Friday online sales increase this year, but "only" 15.2% higher than sales for Black Friday 2011. Different tracking firms using different methodologies account for some of these disparities, but virtually all the reports show solid-to-spectacular results for 2012.

E-commerce as a whole is healthy, but mobile commerce may have hit a peak, or simply be in a slump. The BIGinsight survey indicates that 14.7% of smartphone users planned to use the devices to purchase products this weekend, up only slightly from the 13.7% who did so in 2011. Those planning to use tablets for product purchases actually declined, from 25.7% in 2011 to 24.4% this year.

Activities around m-commerce also showed declines this year: 26.6% of respondents planned to use smartphones to research products/compare prices in 2012, down from 31.8% in 2011; 10.8% planned to use apps to research or purchase products, down from 14.4%; and 17.7% were going to look up retailer information such as store locations, down from 24.3%.

In what may be dispiriting news for retailers concerned about the impact of showrooming, however, 12.2% of smartphone users (and 10.9% of tablet users) planned to use the devices to compare prices.

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