Retail Store Sales Fell 10% Thanksgiving Weekend as Online Gains

  • Earlier discounts made shoppers less compelled to go out
  • ShopperTrak maintains its 2.4% forecast gain for the holiday

Inside the Tepid Brick-and-Mortar Retail Sales

U.S. holiday shoppers spent more of their time last weekend online and less in line.

Consumer spending at brick-and-mortar retail locations in the U.S. fell 10 percent to $20.4 billion over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, according to ShopperTrak. The Chicago-based research firm gathers sales and traffic data from receipt information and devices in stores.

Retailers cut back on Thanksgiving hours, rolled out discounts earlier this year and ran more of their bargains online, putting less pressure on consumers to rush out for discounts after their turkey dinners or the next morning. The strategies also contributed to a 26 percent increase in online sales over the weekend, according to International Business Machines Corp. But even after the brick-and-mortar drop, ShopperTrak maintained its forecast that those sales will rise 2.4 percent this holiday season.

“The success of the holiday season doesn’t hinge on the performance of a single day,” said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak’s founder. “Seven out of the top ten sales days still remain, and December is anticipated to be strong."

ShopperTrak’s forecast for the holiday season is weaker than that of the National Retail Federation, which has predicted a 3.7 percent sales gain for November and December.

Spending Less

The shoppers that did hit the mall last weekend may have kept a lid on spending. About half of Americans shopped on Black Friday this year, similar to last year, the International Council of Shopping Centers said Tuesday. But 55 percent said they spent the same or less than last year, according to a survey of 1,016 adults the trade group commissioned from Opinion Research Corp.

Janeen Price, who was shopping with her daughter in Greensboro, North Carolina, over the weekend, said she was a more serious Black Friday bargain-hunter in previous years. Now, her kids are grown up and she doesn’t feel the need to butt heads with other shoppers, said Price, 50.

“I did do it when we were poorer,” she said.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.