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Washington, D.C. -- Retailers enjoyed a strong start to the holiday season as total spending in stores and online over the Thanksgiving weekend rose 13% to $59.1 billion from $52.4 billion, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. Last year, sales rose 16% over the holiday weekend.
According to an NRF survey conducted by BIGinsight over the weekend, traffic and spending grew over the entire weekend. More people than ever before also shopped online and in stores on Black Friday, as 89 million shoppers braved the crowds, up from 86 million last year.
According to the survey, a record 247 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend, up from 226 million last year. On average, holiday shoppers spent $423 this weekend, up from $398 last year.
The survey found that consumers started their Thanksgiving shopping early, as 28% of weekend shoppers were at the stores by midnight on Black Friday, compared with 24.4% last year. And the weekend shopping bonanza wasn’t limited to stores; consumers also spent more of their holiday budget online. According to the survey, the average person spent $172.42 online over the weekend, or approximately 40.7% of their total weekend spending, up from 37.8% last year.
NRF also asked shoppers which days they shopped online – more than one-quarter (27%) of holiday shoppers said they shopped online on Thanksgiving Day, and nearly half (47.5%) on Black Friday.
Lured by deep discounts and practical spending habits, eight in 10 (79.6%) shoppers took advantage of retailers’ weekend promotions to buy non-gift items. Nearly six in 10 (57.7%) bought clothing and clothing accessories, up from 51.4% last year. Gift buyers also bought toys (34.6%), books, CDs, DVDs, video games (39.8%), electronics (37.7%), and jewelry (15.2%). Nearly one-third (32.6%) of shoppers bought gift cards over the weekend, up nearly 10 percentage points from the 23.1% who did so last year.
More than half (53.5%) of shoppers visited department stores this weekend, up from 48.7% last year. Additionally, consumers shopped at discount stores (39.4%), clothing stores (29%), electronics stores (33%), grocery stores (21.7%), and drug stores (12.7%). Taking advantage of retailers’ special online deals over the weekend, 43.8% of shoppers visited retailers’ websites, up from 35.2% last year.
In related news, the NRF said it may revise its holiday forecast once more is known about whether the Congress and the Obama administration will avert the fiscal cliff of budget cuts and tax-rate changes in 2013. The NRF is forecasting holiday sales, including online, will rise 4.1% to about $586.1 billion this year, compared with a 5.6% gain in 2011.