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NRF: Retail Sales Up Over Thanksgiving Weekend

BY CSA STAFF

Washington D.C. Concerns about the dismal economy and job cuts didn’t keep consumers from shopping over the Thanksgiving weekend. According to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 2008 Black Friday Weekend survey, conducted by BIGresearch, more than 172 million shoppers visited stores and Web sites over Black Friday weekend, up from 147 million shoppers last year.

Attracted by deep price cuts and other promotions, shoppers hit the nation’s shopping malls in droves, spending an average of $372.57 this weekend, up 7.2% from last year’s $347.55. Total spending reached an estimated $41.0 billion. (Spending data includes Thursday, Friday, Saturday and projected spending for Sunday.)

Friday was the busiest day of the weekend with 73.6 million people hitting stores and Web sites for doorbuster sales. The survey found that 23.3% of shoppers were at stores by 5 a.m. while more than half (57.6%) were at stores by 9 a.m.

Though traffic did subside after Friday, retailers were also buoyed by two-day sales as 56.9 million people shopped on Saturday, up from 48.3 million last year, while another 26.2 million people planned to shop on Sunday.

Thanksgiving Day also continues to increase in importance as the number of people who shopped on Thursday was up 48% over last year (16.2 million people vs. 10.9 million people).

Though retailers should be encouraged by strong traffic and sales over the weekend, consumers are still being cautious,” said Phil Rist, executive VP, Strategic Initiatives, BIGresearch. “Weekend shoppers indicated that they are still sticking to a budget and thinking carefully before making any holiday purchases.”

Discount stores were the favored shopping outlet over the holiday weekend. According to the survey, more than half (54.7%) of this weekend’s shoppers visited discount stores. Nearly half (43.0%) shopped at a traditional department store, up 11.1% from 38.7% last year. About one-third of shoppers visited specialty stores such as clothing or electronics stores (36.0%).

As expected, many shoppers (50.9%) purchased clothing and accessories over the weekend while 39.0% bought books, DVDs, CDs and video games and 35.9% purchased consumer electronics.

Toys were also big sellers, as 28.5% of shoppers bought a toy. Gift-card purchasing dropped 10% with 18.7% of shoppers purchasing a gift card over the weekend, down from 21.0% last year.

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Dillard’s 3Q loss widens

BY CSA STAFF

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. Dillard’s reported a third quarter net loss of $56 million, or 76 cents per share, compared to a net loss of $11.3 million, or 15 cents per share, for the same period last year.

Dillard’s ceo, William Dillard, II, stated, “The oppressive economic environment clearly weighed heavily on our results during the third quarter. We continue to take aggressive action to navigate these challenging times. We announced the closure of 21 under-performing stores during 2008, dramatically reduced capital spending for 2008 and 2009 and are executing appropriate operating expense reduction measures throughout the Company. These efforts are not only designed to position ourselves to weather near-term economic uncertainty but also to position Dillard’s well for the long term.”

Net sales for the quarter were $1.508 billion compared to net sales of $1.633 billion last year. Sales in comparable stores declined 9%.

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Fred’s sees 3Q income growth

BY CSA STAFF

MEMPHIS, Tenn. Fred’s reported net income of $6.1 million, or 15 cents per diluted share for the third quarter 2008, an increase of 32% from net income of $4.6 million or 12 cents per diluted share in the year-earlier quarter.

Fred’s total sales for the third quarter of fiscal 2008 were $418.0 million compared with $419.9 million for the same period last year, with the year-over-year decline of 0.4% reflecting the company’s store-closing program. Excluding stores closed in 2008, total sales from ongoing stores increased 4% over the third quarter of last year. On a comparable-store basis, third quarter sales increased 1.4% versus 1.1% in the year-earlier period.

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