Black Friday Verdict: Number of Shoppers Up, Average Spending Down

December 1, 2009
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The results from a National Retail Federation survey conducted over the past weekend confirm the expected: more people spent less. According to NRF’s Black Friday shopping survey, conducted by BIGresearch, 195 million shoppers visited stores and Websites over Black Friday weekend, up from 172 million last year. However, the average spending over the weekend dropped to $343.31 per person from $372.57 a year ago. Total spending reached an estimated $41.2 billion.

“Shoppers proved this weekend that they were willing to open their wallets for a bargain, heading out to take advantage of great deals on less expensive items like toys, small appliances, and winter clothes,” commented Tracy Mullin, NRF president/ceo. “While retailers are encouraged by the number of Americans who shopped over Black Friday weekend, they know they have their work cut out for them to keep people coming back through Christmas.”

Shoppers’ destination of choice over the past weekend seemed to be department stores, with nearly half (49.4 percent) of holiday shoppers visiting at least one, a 12.9 percent increase from last year. Discount retailers took an uncharacteristic back seat, with 43.2 percent of holiday shoppers heading to discount stores and another 7.8 percent heading to outlet stores. Shoppers also visited electronics stores (29.0 percent), clothing stores (22.9 percent), and grocery stores (19.6 percent).

What were people buying? According to the survey, nearly one-third (32.2 percent) purchased toys, an increase of 12.9 percent from last year. And, more people purchased sporting goods (12.6 percent vs. 11.4 percent last year), personal care or beauty items (22.4 percent vs. 19.0 percent), and gift cards (21.2 percent vs. 18.7 percent. The most popular purchases were clothes and books.

In addition, nearly one-third of shoppers (31.2 percent) were at the stores by 5 a.m., compared with 23.3 percent who were at stores by that time last year.