Shoppers Shop, Retailers Happy

Dec 01, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Shoppers showed up early in search of bargains and spent freely to get the 2003 winter holiday shopping season off to a solid start this past weekend, according to retailer reports.

As predicted, consumer electronics and toys were the biggest draw, with consumers lining up outside of stores in the predawn hours last Friday as stores and malls opened early
for business.

Ellen Tolley, a National Retail Federation spokesperson, told the Associated Press the start of the holiday season “was as good as we had hoped for.”

Ms. Tolley said store “traffic was about the same as last year, possibly a little better than last year.”

ShopperTrak reported sales for Friday and Saturday were up 5.5 percent over last year.

Major retailers, including Wal-Mart, reported year-over-year sales improvements for Black Friday and the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Wal-Mart said sales at its stores were up 6.3 percent to approximately $1.52 billion on Friday, setting a single-day sales record for the world’s largest retailer.

Not all consumers headed out to find parking spots in crowded retail store lots over the weekend. According to comScore Networks, many consumers just said no to dealing with
the crowds and chose to shop online. Online sales on Black Friday were up 38 percent over last year, reaching $200 million according to comScore.

Moderator’s Comment: What are your thoughts on the start to the holiday selling season and what we can expect over the next several weeks?

We were very encouraged to note fairly strong consumer traffic to local stores on our audit on Saturday and Sunday after much of the local area was turned
into a giant parking lot on Friday due to vehicle congestion.

Experts are predicting sales for this holiday season will be up between five and seven percent over last year and we have not seen or heard anything to
cause us to question these estimates.

We would temper the enthusiasm that some are showing based on the past weekend’s results by pointing out the season has a ways to go yet. Black Friday is
no longer the gauge it once was. Hopefully, consumers will continue buying right up through the end of the year.
Anderson – Moderator

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