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NRF: Holiday weekend spending up 13% to $59.1 billion

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Washington, D.C. — Retailers enjoyed a strong start to the holiday season as total spending in stores and online over the Thanksgiving weekend rose 13% to $59.1 billion from $52.4 billion, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. Last year, sales rose 16% over the holiday weekend.

According to an NRF survey conducted by BIGinsight over the weekend, traffic and spending grew over the entire weekend. More people than ever before also shopped online and in stores on Black Friday, as 89 million shoppers braved the crowds, up from 86 million last year.

According to the survey, a record 247 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend, up from 226 million last year. On average, holiday shoppers spent $423 this weekend, up from $398 last year.

The survey found that consumers started their Thanksgiving shopping early, as 28% of weekend shoppers were at the stores by midnight on Black Friday, compared with 24.4% last year. And the weekend shopping bonanza wasn’t limited to stores; consumers also spent more of their holiday budget online. According to the survey, the average person spent $172.42 online over the weekend, or approximately 40.7% of their total weekend spending, up from 37.8% last year.

NRF also asked shoppers which days they shopped online – more than one-quarter (27%) of holiday shoppers said they shopped online on Thanksgiving Day, and nearly half (47.5%) on Black Friday.

Lured by deep discounts and practical spending habits, eight in 10 (79.6%) shoppers took advantage of retailers’ weekend promotions to buy non-gift items. Nearly six in 10 (57.7%) bought clothing and clothing accessories, up from 51.4% last year. Gift buyers also bought toys (34.6%), books, CDs, DVDs, video games (39.8%), electronics (37.7%), and jewelry (15.2%). Nearly one-third (32.6%) of shoppers bought gift cards over the weekend, up nearly 10 percentage points from the 23.1% who did so last year.

More than half (53.5%) of shoppers visited department stores this weekend, up from 48.7% last year. Additionally, consumers shopped at discount stores (39.4%), clothing stores (29%), electronics stores (33%), grocery stores (21.7%), and drug stores (12.7%). Taking advantage of retailers’ special online deals over the weekend, 43.8% of shoppers visited retailers’ websites, up from 35.2% last year.

In related news, the NRF said it may revise its holiday forecast once more is known about whether the Congress and the Obama administration will avert the fiscal cliff of budget cuts and tax-rate changes in 2013. The NRF is forecasting holiday sales, including online, will rise 4.1% to about $586.1 billion this year, compared with a 5.6% gain in 2011.

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ShopperTrak report: Retail foot traffic up, sales dip on Black Friday

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Chicago — A report released Saturday by ShopperTrak found that Black Friday proved to be a mixed bag for retailers, as retail foot traffic increased over last year, but retail sales decreased slightly.

ShopperTrak estimates that, when compared with Black Friday last year, retail foot traffic rose 3.5% to more than 307.67 million store visits. Retail sales decreased 1.8%, however, with shoppers spending an estimated total of $11.2 billion on Friday.

“Black Friday continues to be an important day in retail,” said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder. “This year, though, more retailers than last year began their ‘doorbuster’ deals on Thursday, Thanksgiving itself. So while foot traffic did increase on Friday, those Thursday deals attracted some of the spending that is usually meant for Friday.”

By region, total foot traffic increased year-over-year 12.9% in the Midwest, 7.6% in the northeast and 8.7% in the South. Foot traffic dipped 11.3% in the west.

Last year, Black Friday foot traffic increased over 2010 by 4.7%. In 2011, consumers spent $11.4 billion on Black Friday, up from $10.69 billion in 2010.

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Walmart U.S. reports ‘best-ever Black Friday events’

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Bentonville, Ark. — Walmart U.S. reported Saturday that its Black Friday events were its “best ever,” and followed on the heels of what U.S. president and CEO Bill Simon described as an “impressive Thursday,” on which 22 million customers shopped U.S. Walmart stores.

Walmart’s Black Friday plan included three events this year at 8 p.m., 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. During the high-traffic period from 8 p.m. through midnight, Walmart processed nearly 10 million register transactions and almost 5,000 items per second, according to the retailer.

During the 8 p.m. event, customers were focused on gaming consoles, video games, DVDs, Furbys, fashion dolls, board games and Crock-Pots.

At 10 p.m. it was all about electronics, including big-screen TVs, tablets, laptops and digital cameras.

In response to the UFCW’s planned protests, Simon said, “Only 26 protests occurred at stores last night and many of them did not include any Walmart associates.” In addition, the company did not experience the walk-offs that were promised by the UFCW. “We estimate that less than 50 associates participated in the protest nationwide. In fact, this year, roughly the same number of associates missed their scheduled shift as last year,” Simon said.

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