Holiday Season Looks Bright After Promising Black Friday Sales
Any doubts that consumers would be out in force on Black Friday have been put to rest. According to the National Retail Federation's (NRF) 2007 Black Friday Weekend Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, more than 147 million shoppers hit the stores last weekend, up a solid 4.8 percent from last year.
Consumers spent an average of $347.44, down 3.5 percent from last year, but still up an incredibly strong 14.8 percent from 2005. Retailers made up for the lower average expenditure with increased traffic.
"While last year showed a greater emphasis on high-definition televisions, this year consumers were focused on lower-priced doorbusters like digital photo frames, laptops and cashmere sweaters," says NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin.
Retailers opened earlier than ever, with some choosing to start their sales as early as midnight. The strategy appeared to pay off: 14.3 percent of consumers were out shopping before 4 a.m., compared to 12.4 percent last year. And men once again proved to be the better Black Friday customer, outspending women $393.63 to $303.95.
"Knowing that consumers would be challenged by the current economic environment, retailers hoped that higher traffic would offset lower individual spending, which it did," says Phil Rist, vice president of strategy for BIGresearch.
Though discounters saw a dip in traffic last year, they rebounded nicely this year as 55.1 percent of shoppers visited discount stores, up from 49.6 percent in 2006. Consumers also shopped in traditional department stores (38.7 percent), specialty retailers (43.2 percent) and online merchants (31.6 percent).
The most popular items purchased were clothing or accessories (46.8 percent) as well as books, CDs, DVDs, videos or video games (41.7 percent). Other purchases included consumer electronics (35.7 percent), toys (28.2 percent) and gift cards (21.0 percent).
As of Nov. 26, the average person had completed 36.4 percent of their holiday shopping, showing virtually no change from last year. Only one in 12 consumers (8.2 percent) had completely finished shopping.
NRF projects that holiday sales will rise 4 percent this year to $474.5 billion.