Holiday Shopping Off to Mixed Start30 Nov, 2006 By: Jessica Wolf
Black Friday and Cyber Monday kicked off holiday shopping with high numbers, but the rest of the season could be a little dicey for some retailers.
Spending on the day after Thanksgiving was up 19% over last year to $360.15 million, according to the National Retail Federation. But there were fewer people in line for the doorbuster savings, as store traffic declined by 3.4% to 140 million shoppers, according to the trade group.
Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, saw a 26% increase in sales to $608 million, compared to the same day in 2005, according to ComScore Networks Inc. But, the research firm predicts there will be days in December that surpass that peak.
Things turned a bit sour for Wal-Mart, which reported the week after Black Friday that it saw a slight decline 0.1% in same-store sales for November. According to guidance reports, the chain doesn't expect to make up much ground in December either. Wal-Mart announced last week it predicts only a 0.1% same-store sales gain in the final month of 2006.
Target beat November expectations by a slight margin, with a 5.9% increase in same-store sales. That's up from analysts' predictions of 5.7% for the cheap-chic retailer.Wal-Mart focused much of its sales deals for the weekend on consumer electronics and HDTV sets in particular.
That's forcing the hand of competitors.
Best Buy announced it has broadened its price-matching program on HDTV sets. The chain will refund 110% of the difference on a competing price for up to 60 days after the purchase on the pricey items.
Circuit City has said it will beat any competitor's price by 25% on TV purchases or will refund 125% of the price difference within a month of purchase.
Plasma manufacturer Panasonic is lending a hand by expanding its phone in customer service offering through the holidays.
Panasonic is opening up its Plasma Concierge service, ordinarily limited to Panasonic Plasma owners only, to anyone with questions about or looking for advice on buying a flat-panel HDTV set.
Through Dec. 31, any interested shopper can call Panasonic's free hotline at 888/777-7134 Monday through Friday.