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Black Friday Store Traffic Declines; Sales, E-commerce Surge

27 Nov, 2017 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The number of consumers cutting short Thanksgiving dinner to shop and frequent stores the day after on Black Friday reportedly dropped slightly, according to industry data. As expected, online shopping over the retail holiday period surged — up more than 18%, according to Adobe Systems.

In a first, nation’s largest video game retailer, GameStop, was open on Thanksgiving. Walmart, Best Buy and Amazon again drove high-profile price discounting across product categories – including home entertainment (discounted DVD/Blu-ray Disc movies), but with measured expectations.

“Is [Black Friday] the mayhem that it might have been eight or 10 years ago? I think that world is gone,” Walmart CEO Greg Foran told The Wall Street Journal.

Michael Pachter, media analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, said Best Buy had a successful Black Friday — again driven by big-screen TV sales.

“According to our online checks, Best Buy offered better pricing overall than Amazon between Thanksgiving and Sunday, Nov. 26. While pricing remained roughly consistent on both sites between Thanksgiving and Saturday, Nov. 25, pricing increased modestly on Nov. 26,” Pachter wrote in a Nov. 27 note.

With RetailNext and ShopperTrack reporting Black Friday store-traffic declines of 4% and 1.6%, respectively, industry groups had high expectations for “Small Business Saturday,” which attempted to put the focus on local retailers.

The marketing initiative planned to draw more than 71 million shoppers to stores on Nov. 25.

“This is a really big weekend for us,” Matthew Shay, CEO of the National Retail Federation, told Fox News. The trade group expected an uptick in store traffic to about 164 million people through the Nov. 26 weekend — up from 155 million a year earlier. The group projected Thanksgiving/Black Friday sales increases from 3.6% to 4%.

Indeed, Gallup found consumers plan to spend an average of $862 on holiday purchases this year, compared with $752 in 2016. Yet, Dec. 22 — not Nov. 24 (Black Friday) — ranked as the top-shopping day of the holiday season, according to survey respondents.



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