Thanksgiving takes more Black Friday sales
Shoppers spent $9.74 billion on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. That's a drop of 13.2 percent compared with last year, according to data on Saturday by research firm ShopperTrak.
The decline appears to show that more Americans shopped on the holiday itself: Combined spending on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, which had been considered the official start to the holiday buying season until this year, rose 2.3 percent to $12.3 billion.
The data reflect that Thanksgiving, which along with Christmas was one of two days a year that most stores were closed, is becoming an important day for major retailers.
The National Retail Federation, a retail trade group, predicted that 33 million, or almost a quarter, of the 140 million people who planned to shop during the four-day holiday weekend that ends on Sunday, would do so on Thanksgiving. And analysts questioned whether the holiday openings would steal sales away from Black Friday or result in people spending more overall.
"Retailers were pretty successful in drawing the consumers into the stores on Thursday," said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin, whose company counts how many shoppers go into about 40,000 stores. But "Thursday's sales came at the expense of Black Friday's numbers."
The decline in sales on Black Friday was the second in a row. Last year, sales on that day dropped 1.8 percent to $11.2 billion, though it still was the biggest shopping day last year, according to ShopperTrak.
Despite the big drop this year, Shoppertrak's Martin said he thinks Black Friday will remain the biggest shopping day for the 10th consecutive year. But if retailers continue to promote Thanksgiving as the start of the holiday buying season, he thinks the holiday will eventually surpass Black Friday in sales.
"We're just taking Black Friday sales and spreading them across a larger number of days," Martin said.
There will be a clearer picture of sales for the first holiday shopping weekend on Sunday when the National Retail Federation releases data.