Skip to main content

Consumers clamor for deals


The massive number of consumers who went shopping over the weekend offered a mix blessing to the retail industry.

More than 172 million shoppers visited stores and Web sites over Black Friday weekend, substantially more than last year’s 147 million shoppers, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2008 Black Friday weekend survey conducted by BIGresearch. Shoppers spent an average of $372.57 this weekend, a 7.2% increase from last year’s $347.55.

“Pent-up demand on electronics and clothing, plus unparalleled bargains on this season’s hottest items helped drive shopping all weekend," said NRF president and ceo Tracy Mullin. “Holiday sales are not expected to continue at this brisk pace, but it is encouraging that Americans seem excited to go shopping again.”

The anticipated deceleration from the intense shopping activity that took place Friday and Saturday is not good for the retail industry. Customers turned out in droves because they are hard-pressed for cash and were desperate for bargains. Nothing will change the reality of household balance sheets during the next three weeks so retailers’ intent on generating sales will have to resort to aggressive promotions.

Target has been more aggressive than normal with its prices, but these are not normal times and heavy activity in the discount channel was a key reason why the shopper turnout was high. According to the survey, more than half (54.7%) of this weekend’s shoppers visited discount stores. Nearly half (43%) shopped at a traditional department store, up 11.1% from 38.7% last year. About one-third of shoppers visited specialty stores like clothing or electronics stores (36%) and shopped online (34%).

According to NRF, Friday was clearly the busiest day of the weekend with 73.6 million people hitting stores and Web sites. Traffic fell off after Friday, with 56.9 million people shopping on Saturday, up from 48.3 million last year, while another 26.2 million people planned to shop on Sunday.

Although Target was closed on Thanksgiving Day, it continues to increase in importance as the number of people who shopped on Thursday was up 48% over last year (16.2 million people vs. 10.9 million people). Of those who shopped on Friday, the survey found that 23.3% of shoppers were at stores by 5 a.m., while more than half (57.6%) were at stores by 9 a.m.

Survey results were based on 3,370 responses collected from Nov. 27 to 29.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds