Apparently, all the early hours, freebies and hyped promotions offset any consumer concerns about the economy this past weekend. According to a National Retail Federation survey over the weekend, traffic and spending were up both online and in stores, reaching historic highs.
According to the survey of 3,826 consumers from Nov. 24 to Nov. 26 conducted by BIGresearch:
"More consumers than ever turned out for retailers' Black Friday promotions, a promising sign for the economic recovery," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay in a statement.
The move to add extra hours — including some stores opening on Thanksgiving Day and others pulling back Black Friday opening time to midnight — appears to have worked. The survey found 28.7 million people shopped online and at stores on Thanksgiving Day, up from 22.2 million last year. On Black Friday, 86.3 million more shopped online and in stores. Nearly one-quarter (24.4 percent) of Black Friday shoppers were at the stores by midnight on Black Friday or visited retailers who opened on Thanksgiving evening for Black Friday deals. By comparison, the number of people who were at the stores at midnight was 9.5 percent in 2010 and 3.3 percent in 2009.
"The appetite for these early openings is only getting stronger among holiday shoppers," said Phil Rist, executive vice president at BIGresearch. He nonetheless said retailers will "have to stick to an aggressive holiday promotion schedule to keep consumers interested."
The promising holiday start was largely echoed by other reports:
NPD reported that while record numbers took advantage of the deals on Black Friday, traffic slowed over the weekend and survey responses continued to point to a cautious consumer. Said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, NPD, in a statement, "This year credit is tight, cash is limited and the promise of better times ahead is being held at bay and that all adds up to a less enthusiastic consumer."
How would you assess Black Friday's results in terms of the holiday selling season?