Black Friday Mystery
The figures are in, the pundits have spoken, and here are the definitive results – maybe:
1. Black Friday Sales were down.
- Black Friday – Friday retail sales were down 1.8% over the previous year according to the research firm ShopperTrak.
2. Thursday and Black Friday Weekend sales were up.
- On Thanksgiving there was almost a 21% increase in the number of people making visits to stores or websites according to the National Retail Federation. Bill Martin, founder of ShopperTrak, said “The early promotions and early openings on Thursday drew some of the sales that would normally land on Friday into Thursday. What we're going to start looking at is the 'Black Weekend,' a four day weekend.”
- It's also doubtless that overall sales for the holiday opening are up over last year due to an improving economy. The average spend over the Thanksgiving weekend was $423 this year from $398 last year according to the retail federation.
3. Did Thursday openings add to the total Holiday sales? Hard to Say.
- It's uncertain if stretching Black Friday to include the added Thursday openings really made a difference in what would have otherwise been spent. For the major retailers, “You want to be open if they want to go shopping,” said Laura Gurski, partner at A.T. Kearney's retail practice. But that's a bit of a “monkey see – monkey do” kind of thing.
- Confusing things even more, “Now we're seeing really, a five-day weekend that starts on Thursday,” said Mathhew Shay of the National Retail Federation, adding Cyber Monday to the mix.
- Certainly, those who showed up Thursday evening to buy a door buster Plasma screen TV, don't buy a second one on Friday. “Consumers have only so many gifts to buy and only so much to spend” said MIchael Niemera, chief economist for the International Council of Shopping Centers.
So there you have it, if you want to believe that Black Friday sales were down due to the Thursday opening, you are right. If you feel that sales were up overall during the Black Friday period from Thursday through the weekend, then you are also right. If you're just uncertain that opening on Thursday really adds much to overall sales, then you can share that uncertainty with many experts.
For me, I'm still trying to figure out what to buy her for Christmas and the stores are always open Christmas eve.