By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
NEW YORK – By most measurements, the 2012 Black Friday weekend was one for the record books.
A combination of Thanksgiving Day store openings, pre-Cyber Monday sales and a highly motivated consumer led to a gangbuster weekend for merchants.
“It was clearly the biggest shopping weekend on record,” observed Shawn DuBravac, chief economist and senior research director of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). Based on preliminary data, tech products comprised 34 percent of all weekend purchases, second only behind apparel, he noted on a conference call, with smartphones, tablets and largescreen TVs proving to be the doorbusters of choice.
CE skewed even higher in a survey of Facebook fans of BradsDeals, an online clearinghouse for retail coupons and promotions, which showed that 76 percent of shoppers bought tech products on Black Friday, followed by toys at 62 percent and apparel at 61 percent.
Deal-hungry tech buyers in particular helped drive CE sales over the holiday weekend. According to The NPD Group, CE shoppers were 80 percent more likely to purchase doorbusters this year than last year, and almost twice as many tech buyers made doorbuster purchases than consumers overall. Among the tech consumers who went shopping on Black Friday, 37 percent said they did so because they saw an item they wanted on sale, and 34 percent said they went out because they saw a particular retailer was having a big sale, an NPD poll showed.
Total holiday sales estimates varied. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), sales topped $59 billion for the four days through Sunday, with a record 247 million shoppers visiting stores and websites.
The latter enjoyed a 17.4 percent increase in e-commerce sales Thanksgiving Day and a 20.7 percent surge on Black Friday, IBM reported, with mobile sales representing 16.3 percent of the online mix, up 9.8 percent year over year. Nearly a quarter of consumers used a mobile device to visit a retailer’s site, with iPads accounting for almost 10 percent of mobile traffic, followed by iPhones at 8.7 percent and Android devices at 5.5 percent, IBM said.
In stores, foot traffic rose 3.5 percent on Black Friday to nearly 308 million store visits, according to ShopperTrak, although brick-and-mortar sales slipped 1.8 percent to $11.2 billion as Thanksgiving Day doorbusters pulled some business forward.
“Black Friday shopping continues to expand into Thanksgiving Day and will impact the way we look at all of the ‘Black’ weekend results, since more shopping hours allows for more shopping visits and a smoothing of sales across all of the days,” said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin.
Indeed, of the 226 million who shopped over the holiday weekend according to the NRF, more than 35 million visited stores and websites on Thursday, up from 29 million last year, and 28 percent of weekend shoppers were at brick-and-mortar stores by midnight on Black Friday, compared with 24.4 percent last year.
Similarly, the BradsDeals poll showed that nearly 67 percent of respondents began their shopping on Thanksgiving Day. “Black Thursday is the new Black Friday,” observed founder Brad Wilson. “Even though some of us cringed when we heard about Thanksgiving store openings, this trend is here to stay, as shoppers spoke with their feet.”
But the Thursday evening store openings by Best Buy, Walmart, Target, Sears, Toys “R” Us, h.h.gregg and other chains may have also eaten further into earnings. “We believe [Black Friday weekend] is becoming less profitable,” Janney hardlines retail analyst David Strasser observed in a research note. “The Thanksgiving day openings increase SG&A (sales, general and administrative) dollars with at best modest top-line benefits as total sales get spread over a longer time period of time.”
CEA’s DuBravac disagreed. “Retailers have learned how to make Black Friday traffic and volume profitable,” he told TWICE on the conference call, pointing to attachment opportunities for accessories, higher-margin bundles, and gift card offers that ensure return visits.
What’s more, promotional pricing appears to have “bottomed out,” he noted, with opening price points “not much lower than last year.”
Top 10 Products On Black Friday*
1. Canon EOS Rebel T3i DSLR kit with 1855mm lens (black)
2. Dell Inspiron 660 desktop computer with Intel Core i5-3330 processor
3. Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1-inch 16GB Wi-Fi tablet (titanium silver)
4. New Balance men's running shoe
5. Dell Latitude ST 10.1-inch 32GB Wi-Fi tablet (black)
6. Vizio XVT3D580CM 58-inch LED TV
7. Samsung Galaxy Note II smartphone, AT&T (gray)
8. Asus Q200E-BHI3T45 11.6-inch notebook (gray)
9. Apple MacBook Air 11.6-inch ultraportable notebook (silver)
10. Mitsubishi WD-73C12 73-inch DLP RPTV
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.