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Deep discounts lead to strong Thanksgiving, Black Friday sales

Briguett Monterroso, left, and Nohelia Monterroso, of Huntington,

Briguett Monterroso, left, and Nohelia Monterroso, of Huntington, walk through the Walt Whitman Shops mall in Huntington Station on Black Friday. (Nov. 29, 2013) Credit: Steve Pfost

Deep discounts at malls and on retailers' websites during the four-day Thanksgiving Day weekend lured more than 141 million U.S. shoppers -- a 1.44 percent increase over last year -- and close to 32 million people are expected to shop on Cyber Monday, according to a national retail group.

Black Friday remained the biggest sale day, with more than 92 million people shopping in stores and online, an increase of 3.37 percent from last year, according to a National Retail Federation survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics. Thanksgiving Day traffic grew 27 percent as nearly 45 million shoppers took advantage of special "turkey day" deals in stores and online, up from 35 million in 2012.

"It's pretty clear Thanksgiving has become increasingly important and an official part of the Black Friday shopping weekend now," National Retail Federation president and CEO Matthew Shay said yesterday. "Thanksgiving deals, both in stores and online, have evolved into something that is much more than a fad."

Retailers started promotions early due to a shorter-than-usual shopping season between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Shay said.

"The official holiday season is so short, 6 days shorter than a year ago, retailers really had to be creative as to how they would reach out to consumers."

Shoppers spent $407.02 on average, mostly on clothes, electronics, books, DVDs and video games, down from $423.55 last year. About 59 million consumers also did their weekend shopping online, with the average person spending $177.67. Total spending is estimated to reach $57.4 billion, according to the retail federation.

"Consumers were able to create a new tradition for Thanksgiving, of shopping Thursday after dinner," said Marshal Cohen, retail analyst with The NPD Group, a Port Washington-based market research company.

ShopperTrak, a provider of shopper analytics, estimated Saturday that brick-and-mortar shopper traffic increased 2.8 percent and retail sales also increased by 2.3 percent on Thanksgiving and Black Friday compared with last year.

But ShopperTrak also found that brick-and-mortar shopper traffic fell 11.4 percent and retail sales also decreased by 13.2 percent on Black Friday alone when compared with last year.

"Thursday deals eroded Friday's discounts," Cohen said.

Black Friday saw $1.198 billion in desktop online sales, making it the heaviest online spending day to date, a 15 percent increase versus last year. Thanksgiving Day's $766 million in desktop online sales achieved a 21 percent increase over last year, according to comScore Inc., a digital measurement and analytics company.

Long Island stores fared better in the early hours than the rest of the country, Cohen said.

"Long Island shoppers did not feel the need to burn the midnight oil."

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