Early holiday promotions, an increasing number of stores being open on Thanksgiving Day and the continued growth of online shopping have all cut into Black Friday sales during the historically biggest shopping weekend of the year, analysts said.
The four-day Thanksgiving Day weekend was expected to lure more than 133.7 million U.S. shoppers, a 5.2 percent decrease from last year, according to the National Retail Federation. Total weekend sales are expected to reach $50.9 billion, down from last year's estimated $57.4 billion, the retail federation said.
"Once upon a time, Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, was the only day that prices were marked down. That doesn't happen anymore," National Retail Federation president and CEO Matthew Shay said Sunday, adding retailers are offering discounts earlier in November and more people are shopping online. "This season, every day is going to be Black Friday. And every minute is going to be Cyber Monday."
Long Island stores had a better Black Friday week than almost any other area due to its younger crowd, with 7 out of 10 shoppers under 35, said Marshal Cohen, retail analyst with The NPD Group, a Port Washington-based market research company. "This was all about bargain hunting and the consumers rewarding the retailers that offered markdowns," Cohen said.
Though, nationally, crowds may have been thinner than average on Black Friday, it still remains the biggest sale day of this holiday weekend, with more than 86.9 million people shopping in stores and online. Thanksgiving Day traffic remained flat as nearly 43.1 million shoppers took advantage of special "turkey day" deals in stores and online, according to the retail federation.
"We have to look at the Black Friday business with a different set of eyes," Cohen said. "Now, it is a weeklong shopping holiday, not just one day. If you add up all the dollars, it will match or even exceed last year's number."
Shoppers spent $380.95 on average, mostly on clothes, electronics, books, DVDs and video games, down 6.4 percent from $407.02 last year. The average person who shopped over the weekend spent $159.55 online, about 41.9 percent of their total average budget, down 10.2 percent from $177.67 last year, according to the retail federation.
"I expect the Saturday before Christmas to be bigger than Black Friday," Cohen said. "So much of what was bought this weekend was self-gifted items. There are still an awful lot of holiday gifts to be gotten."
ShopperTrak, a provider of location-based shopper analytics, estimated Saturday that Thanksgiving and Black Friday's combined sales were $12.29 billion, a 0.5 percent decrease from $12.35 billion in the same two-day period last year. While Thanksgiving traffic increased 27.3 percent, Black Friday was down about 5.6 percent.
"There is no question that store traffic was down and the volume was down, but when you add online sales, you will see an increase over last year," Cohen said.Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday set new online sales records with $1.33 billion and $2.4 billion, respectively, according to Adobe's data released Friday. Thanksgiving Day saw a 25 percent increase in online sales, while Black Friday rose 24 percent.
About 29 percent of sales on Thanksgiving came from mobile devices, up from 21 percent in 2013. Mobile devices drove 27 percent of sales on Black Friday, 3 percent more than last year, according to Adobe.
About 126.9 million shoppers plan to shop online today on Cyber Monday, down from 131.6 million last year, according to the retail federation.
EXPECTED FOR THANKSGIVING WEEKEND
U.S. SHOPPERS: 133.7 million, down 5.2 percent from last year.
TOTAL WEEKEND SALES: $50.9 billion, down from $57.4 billion last year.
BLACK FRIDAY ONLINE, IN-STORE SHOPPERS: 86.9 million people.
THANKSGIVING DAY ONLINE, IN-STORE SHOPPERS: 43.1 million people.
CYBER MONDAY: Online expected traffic: 126.9 million, down slightly from 131.6 million last year.
Source: The National Retail Federation