NEW YORK —
Earlier store openings, a bargain-hungry consumer and the lure of deeply discounted TVs and laptops contributed to the largest Black Friday sales haul in history Thanksgiving weekend.
Americans spent a record $52 billion from Thanksgiving through Sunday, or $398.62 per shopper, a 9.1 percent increase from last year, the National Retail Federation (NRF) reported, while traffic to stores and websites rose 6.6 percent to hit an all-time high of 226 million visits.
Broken out by channel, 62.2 percent of the total weekend spend took place in brick-and-mortar stores and 37.8 percent was transacted online, the trade group said.
Black Friday proper was also one for the record books. According to market research firm ShopperTrak, sales at brick-and-mortar stores rose 6.6 percent the day after Thanksgiving to $11.4 billion, while foot traffic increased 5.1 percent from last year.
But despite criticisms of holiday commercialism, many started their Black Friday shopping even sooner thanks to earlier store openings. Customers left their Thanksgiving tables for an 8 p.m. opening at Toys “R” Us, a 10 p.m. sale at Walmart, and midnight doorbusters at Best Buy and Target, among others. According to the NRF, nearly onequarter of Black Friday shoppers had hit the bricks by midnight, compared with 9.5 percent in 2010 and 3.3 percent in 2009.
“The appetite for these early openings is only getting stronger among holiday shoppers, and retailers did a great job providing Americans just what they wanted this weekend – the ability to shop on Black Friday without having to get out of bed before dawn,” observed Phil Rist, executive VP of NRF’s research partner BIGresearch.
Adam Levin, CEO of Levin Consulting, agreed. “Opening early was another home run, maybe even a grand slam. Consumers definitely liked the idea of shopping at midnight.” Based on on-site observations at more than 200 stores, Levin estimated that Best Buy alone saw a 50 percent to 200 percent increase in the length of its doorbuster queues from last year, while hhgregg, Target, Toys “R” Us, Kohl’s and other major chains drew record crowds.
E-tailers also enjoyed an exceptional turnout. According to market research firm ComScore, online sales rose 26 percent to $816 million on Black Friday, while Thanksgiving Day sales increased 18 percent to $479 million.
was the traffic leader on Black Friday, with a 50 percent increase in visits year over year, followed by
“Despite some analysts’ predictions that the flurry of brick-and-mortar retailers opening their doors early for Black Friday would pull dollars from online retail, we still saw a banner day for ecommerce,” said ComScore chairman Gian Fulgoni.