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Moody’s: Retailers that opened early on Thanksgiving night gained advantage


New York -- Retailers that opened early on Thanksgiving evening gained an advantage and that promotional activity was about on par with last year, according to a new Moody’s report, “Thanksgiving Weekend: The Early Bird Gets the Worm.”

“Overall, the trends we observed this weekend are consistent with our expectations of 4% sales growth and 15% online sales growth for the 2012 holiday shopping season,” said Charlie O'Shea, VP -- senior analyst at Moody's and author of the report. “Retailers that opened early seemed to get a jump on those that delayed their openings until early Black Friday morning. We believe the early opening trend is accelerating. Consumers seem to like the option of segueing right from Thanksgiving dinner to shopping and buying.”

The one downside to the early openings was a lull in the stores on Friday afternoon and Saturday, the report said.

“While this is typical, it seemed to be exacerbated by the early openings as mall traffic seemed to slow as the weekend wore on,” O’Shea said. “Nevertheless, given the preliminary positive comments made by retailers that opened early, we feel that the Thanksgiving Day openings are likely here to stay, with ever-earlier openings and online activity," said O'Shea.

Promotional activity seemed to run about even with last year, Moody's said, with consumer electronics led by flat-panel TVs continuing their prominent role in driving store traffic.

On the apparel front, department store operators such as Macy's Inc. and Kohl's Corp. opened early, and promotions ranged up to 65% off for private-label apparel and accessories. Overall inventories in this segment seem well-controlled, as Moody's analysts observed fewer clearance racks compared with last year.

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