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Black Friday Weekend Traffic Up

1 Dec, 2013 By: Chris Tribbey

TEMECULA, Calif. — While most shoppers only had to travel within their own city to grab Black Friday weekend deals, Simon Caro, 42, and Maria Rodriguez, 26, had a longer drive ahead of them.

“We came from Guadalajara, Mexico, and we came for the deals,” Caro said Thanksgiving night, while shopping at a Walmart in this community about 60 miles north of San Diego. He and Rodriguez had two shopping carts filled with HDTVs, Sony Blu-ray Disc players, Samsung tablets and an Xbox 360.

The big-box retailer slashed prices of the Xbox 360 down to $99, the PlayStation 3 to $149 and some 23-inch HDTVs could be had for $175.

Walmart, Best Buy and Target all got an early start for the Black Friday retail push, opening their doors Thanksgiving evening. The results were positive, with brick-and-mortar shopper traffic up 2.8% Thursday and Friday, with more than 1.07 billion store visits by shoppers, according to ShopperTrak. Retail sales were up 2.3% with $12.3 billion in sales those two days, the research firm reported.

“By all appearances and according to CEOs I’ve spoken with across the retail spectrum, it looks like the early opening of stores on Thanksgiving and the traditional start of holiday shopping on Black Friday is breaking new records, including what companies are seeing through their digital channels,” said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation (NRF). “The key takeaway at this point is that the real winners are in fact the consumers, who are recognizing more savings through competitive pricing and great promotions being offered in every category.”

The NRF reported Dec. 1 that more than 141 million unique shoppers made a purchase during Black Friday weekend, up from 139 million in 2012. More than 248 million waited in line or shopped online, up from 247 million. Traffic on Thanksgiving Day itself grew 27% with nearly 45 million shoppers at stores or online. Black Friday saw more than 92 million people shopping, up from 89 million.

Shoppers spent $407.02 from Thursday through Sunday, down from $423.55 last year. More than one in three bought electronics and/or discs.

“Cold weather, unique promotions and unbeatable prices put millions of Americans in the mood to shop for holiday gifts this weekend,” Shay said. “Retailers’ late night and early morning promotions struck just the right chord for those hoping to kick off the holiday shopping season with friends and family. With only a few weeks until the big day, retailers will continue to aggressively promote their in-store and online offerings, looking to entice today’s very budget-conscious and value-focused shopper.”

Online tracking firm comScore reported $1.2 billion in online spending for Black Friday, up 15% over Black Friday 2012, with Amazon tops among online retailers. Amazon was prepping Cyber Monday deals that included a 46-inch Samsung LED for $477.99, a 46-inch Samsung 3D HDTV for $1,297.99, a Roku media player for $40 and more than 50% off for more than 7,000 DVDs and Blu-rays.

NRF reported that the average Black Friday weekend shopper spent more than $177 online.

Walmart reported record traffic Thanksgiving night both in stores and to its website, with nearly 400 million page views and more than 5 million consumers buying items online. More than 10 million transactions had been made in Walmart stores between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. The retailer sold more than 2 million HDTVs and more than 1.4 million tablets. Laptops, the iPad mini, the Play Station 4 and the Xbox One were also among the top sellers.

“Our Black Friday events were bigger, better, faster, cheaper and safer than ever,” said Bill Simon, president and CEO of Walmart U.S. “More customers chose us, we had the prices and products they were looking for, and we’re not finished yet. Helping families get ready for a great Christmas — and get a lot of great deals while they’re at it — is exactly what we’re going to continue to do.”

At Target, the retailer reported double the online weekend traffic from last year, with the iPad Air, several large-screen TVs and Nintendo 3DS XL sold out. The Element 50-inch HDTV (priced at $229) sold out within minutes at brick-and-mortar stores Thanksgiving night.

“Our guests told us they want top gifts at a great value, and our team delivered,” said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and CEO for Target. “Whether online, on their mobile devices, or in our stores, guests shopped Target in unprecedented numbers. And, as always, our team provided the exceptional experience our guests have come to expect from Target.”

Both Best Buy and GameStop reported long lines for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles, with some stores reporting they’ve run out. The deals weren’t limited to brick-and-mortar retailers, with the Vudu video service pricing down many films in HD for $4.99 for the Black Friday weekend.

Online retail marketplace eBay reported online shopping was up nearly 130% on Thanksgiving Day, compared to last year.

The early Thanksgiving sales seem to have had an impact on Black Friday numbers, according to ShopperTrak, with brick-and-mortar traffic down 11.4% and sales down 13.2%

“The Black Friday shopping experience is changing with more shoppers choosing to go out on Thanksgiving Day,” said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin. “Consumers increasingly research products online before entering stores. When they arrive, customers know exactly what they want to buy — retailers now need to make their experience a satisfying one.”

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