More Americans than ever pushed themselves away from the Thanksgiving table, reached for the car keys or the keyboard, and went shopping Thursday.
And if they didn’t go shopping Thursday, then they went Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
A record-breaking 247 million shoppers visited stores or online retailers over the Thanksgiving weekend and spent $59 billion on gifts or a “little something for themselves,” a 13 percent increase over last year’s sales, according to a National Retail Federation survey conducted by BIGinsight.
About 35 million shoppers ventured online or out of the house on Thanksgiving Day, up from 29 million last year, the report said. In 2005, just 10 million shoppers made purchases on turkey day. The emerging holiday ritual is being spurred, in part, by the growing number of retailers offering earlier or extended Thanksgiving hours, retail experts say.
“From green beans to great deals, millions of Americans found time this Thanksgiving to make the most of retailers’ promotions and enjoy a special family holiday,” Matthew Shay, president and chief executive of the foundation said in a statement.
Although the holiday shopping season got off to a healthy start, Shay said retailers are expected to try to keep the momentum going by offering discounts and deals through December.
This year’s extra Thanksgiving hours may have cut into Black Friday sales. More retailers offered their ‘doorbuster’ deals earlier in the week or on Thanksgiving, so while retail traffic rose on Black Friday, sales that day declined nearly 2 percent, ShopperTrak reported. “While foot traffic did increase on Friday, those Thursday deals attracted some of the spending that’s usually meant for Friday,” ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin said in a statement.
Locally, sales were up at many stores and malls over the Thanksgiving weekend.
“Many of the sales reports we’re receiving from Black Friday weekend are well above last year’s number,” said Kim Jones, spokeswoman for Shadow Lake Towne Center in Papillion and Omaha’s Village Pointe Shopping Center.
The Nebraska Furniture Mart set a single-day sales record on Friday and a record for the post-Thanksgiving three-day weekend, said Robert Batt, executive vice president, with sales up 10 percent from last year. The Mart was not open on Thanksgiving.
“We’ve had a positive uptick all year long,” Batt said. “We had what the customers wanted.”
The dollar volume was boosted partly because the Mart stocked hundreds of the most-requested sale items, Batt said.
The fact that Nebraska beat Iowa in football Friday helped boost sales at the Mart, Batt said. Traffic at the store slowed down during the game but picked up after the win.
“If Nebraska had lost, it definitely would have affected sales. Now we’re playing in the championship game. ... God bless the Huskers. People are buying,” Batt said.
But not all local retailers trumpeted this past weekend’s sales. Some independent retailers said that shoppers lavished their attention and their wallets on the big box stores.
“It was not one of our strongest weekends,” said Jenny VonDollen, owner of Category One Gifts & Gourmet at Rockbrook Village. “It seems like people do all their big box shopping over the Black Friday weekend.”
The store’s Small Business Saturday promotions helped bring in its loyal customers, but this year’s Saturday sales were about the same as last year’s, VonDollen said.
On the plus side, she said, the gourmet food and kitchenware store gets “busier the closer we get to the holiday.”
Thanksgiving weekend retail highlights
»From 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. EST on Black Friday — its busiest hour — MasterCard recorded more than 1,200 transactions per second, 25 percent more than its busiest hour last year.
»Of the total who shopped online from Thursday through Sunday, 27 percent shopped on Thanksgiving. On Black Friday, an additional 48 percent picked up a mouse, mobile phone or tablet and shopped online.
»Online sales were up more than 17 percent on Thanksgiving and 21 percent on Black Friday this year, compared with last year, according to IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark 2012 Black Friday Report.
»Although many retailers began posting their so-called Cyber Monday bargains last week, nearly 130 million shoppers were expected to shop online Monday, up from 123 million a year ago, according to the National Retail Federation.
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