While retailers keep extending Black Friday shopping bargains, nationally the day after Thanksgiving remained the leader of November holiday shopping, according to a retail trade group.
The National Retail Federation announced that Black Friday was not only the busiest day for in-store activity, with 84.2 million shoppers, but for the first time Black Friday topped Cyber Monday as the busiest day for online sales at 93.2 million shoppers.
Local retailers also experienced a good Black Friday, although some agree that it’s becoming hard to hold Black Friday sales to one day only.
“I’ve only been open for two months but Black Friday was my busiest day,” said Monica Miller, owner of East End Boutique in Grantsville. “We had great sales that ran Friday through Saturday and Santa Claus was here on Saturday.”
While East End Boutique is new to Back Friday, Miller is not. She and her husband, Jay, own Big O Tires in Tooele.
“Black Friday is always a big day at Big O,” she said. “We were busy this year as well. Part of that may have been due to the weather, but Black Friday deals always draw people in. Black Friday sales were good this year and is usually a good sign for the holiday shopping season.”
Small Business Saturday was the second highest day for in-store shopping at 59.9 million shoppers, followed by Thanksgiving Day with 37.8 million shoppers, according to an NRF report on holiday shopping.
A record 189.6 million U.S. consumers shopped from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday this year, an increase of 14% over last year’s 165.8 million, according to a report from the NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics.
“Americans continue to start their holiday shopping earlier in the year, and Thanksgiving is still a critical weekend for millions,” said Matthew Shay, NRF President and CEO. “Whether they’re looking for something unique on Main Street, making a trip to the store or searching for the best deals from their mobile device, this is when shoppers shift into high gear.
“With the condensed holiday season, consumers are feeling the pressure to get their shopping done in time. Even those who typically wait until the last minute to purchase gifts turned out in record numbers all weekend long,” Shay said.
Shoppers spent an average $362 on holiday items over the five-day period, up 16% from $313 during the same period last year. Of the total, $257, or 71%, was specifically spent on gifts. The biggest spenders were 25- to 34-year-olds at $440, closely followed by 35- to 44-year-olds at $440, according to an NRF report.
More than half of consumers started their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving, with nearly a quarter of holiday purchases made before Thanksgiving.
“This is further evidence that the holiday season has grown far beyond the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Shay said. “Thanksgiving is still a hallmark of the season, and there’s billions of dollars in shopping still to come. But many consumers have already been shopping for weeks, and retailers are increasingly adapting to that.”
Walmart offered pre-Black Friday deals as early as Nov. 1. Target held a Black Friday preview sale on Nov. 8-9.
However, NRF defines the holiday season as Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 and has forecast that 2019 sales will total between $728 and $731 billion.
This year the traditional holiday shopping season is shorter than usual with only 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. But NRF does not expect that to make a difference in spending given the number of people who begin shopping earlier.
Consumers expect to spend an average $1,048 — including purchases made earlier — for an increase of 4% over last year, according to NRF’s annual survey released in October.
Thirty-nine percent of consumers looked to emails from retailers for information on deals and promotions, edging out conventional advertising circulars, which were tied with online search at 38%. Mobile devices played a significant role, used by 75% to research products, compare prices or make purchases, up from 66% last year.
“The growth in online retail sales is a tide that lifts everybody,” said Phil Rist, Prosper Insight & Analytics executive vice president of strategy. “When consumers are buying from retailers online but picking up or making returns in-store, it is more and more difficult to distinguish between the sales retailers make in their stores and the ones they make on their websites.”