Early holiday promotions, the continued growth of online shopping, and an improving economy are taking some of the bang out of Black Friday.
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), retail sales online and in-store between Thanksgiving Day and Sunday, November 30 dropped 11 percent compared to the same period last year. Total retail sales for the long Thanksgiving weekend are estimated at $50.9 billion.
NRF reports that overall, 133.7 million people shopped or planned to shop at stores or online over the four-day weekend, which is 5.2 percent fewer than last year. Shoppers also spent less money this year, an average of $380.95 over the four day period, which is 6.4 percent less than the $407.02 they spent last year.
"A strengthening economy that changes consumers' reliance on deep discounts, a highly competitive environment, early promotions and the ability to shop 24/7 online all contributed to the shift witnessed this weekend," NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a press release. "We are witnessing an evolutionary change in holiday shopping by both consumers and retailers, and expect this trend to continue in the years ahead."
Department stores were a preferred destination for shoppers over the long weekend. According to NRF, 50.7 percent of shoppers reported visiting at least one department store. Additionally, 34.6 percent shopped at discount stores and 29.1 percent shopped at electronics stores. Nearly two in five shopped online.
"Though much shopping has been done by this point, it's important to remember that there are still many weeks left in the holiday season," said Pam Goodfellow, principal analyst at consumer research firm Prosper, which helped NRF poll Black Friday shoppers. "Shoppers this year have made it clear that they no longer only value deep discounts on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, they want the entire package from beginning to end – free shipping, early promotions, convenient ways to use their mobile devices and, of course, hard-to-beat online deals."