The big kickoff day for winter holiday shopping traditionally known as Black Friday at many locations started early with shoppers crowding malls and big box stores Thanksgiving evening.
More than 35 million Americans visited retailersâ stores and websites Thursdayâup from 29 million last yearâscoring deals on everything from hot electronic items to cashmere sweaters and toys, according to a National Retail Federation survey conducted by BIGinsight, which reported that more people than ever before also shopped online and in stores on Black Friday, as 89 million shoppers braved the crowds, up from 86 million last year.
According to the survey, a record 247 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend, up from 226 million last year. Responding to retailersâ promotions, the average holiday shopper spent $423 this Thanksgiving weekend, up from $398 last year. Total spending nationally reached an estimated $59.1 billion.
Locally, Northlake Mall opened on Friday at 4 a.m., offering free coffee and other treats to early shoppers. The Mall at Stonecrest opened at midnight and several Walmart stores started offering bargains before the clock struck 12.
While some retail employees protested having to work on the holiday, bargain hunting shoppers were out in force. According to the survey 28 percent of weekend shoppers were at the stores by midnight preceding Black Friday, compared to 24.4 percent last year.
âFrom green beans to great deals, millions of Americans found time this Thanksgiving to make the most of retailersâ promotions and enjoy a special family holiday,â said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. âTo keep their customers excited about holiday shopping, retailers will continue to offer attractive promotions through December, and provide strong consumer value with low prices, enhanced mobile and online offerings, and unique product assortment.â
The weekend shopping bonanza wasnât limited to stores; consumers also spent more of their holiday budget online. According to the survey, the average person spent $172.42 online over the weekend, or approximately 40.7 of their total weekend spending, up from 37.8 percent last year.
NRF also asked shoppers which days they shopped online. More than one-quarter (27.0 percent) of holiday shoppers said they shopped online on Thanksgiving Day, and nearly half (47.5 percent) on Black Friday.
âThereâs no question that millions of people were drawn to retailersâ aggressive online promotions this weekend, making sure to research and compare prices days in advance to ensure they were getting the best deal they could,â said BIGinsight Consumer Insights Director Pam Goodfellow. âHowever, with shopper traffic increasing at department, discount, and clothing stores over the weekend, itâs clear that consumers still recognize Black Friday as one of the biggest shopping days of the year, as they have for decades.â
While it might be reasonable to assume that the late night-early morning shoppers were looking for items on their holiday giving list, that wasnât always the case, according to the NRF survey. Lured by deep discounts and practical spending habits, eight in 10 (79.6 percent) shoppers took advantage of retailersâ weekend promotions to buy non-gift items. Over their weekend shopping trips, looking for both âself-giftsâ and gifts for others, nearly six in 10 (57.7 percent) bought clothing and clothing accessories, up from 51.4 percent last year. Gift buyers also bought toys (34.6 percent), books, CDs, DVDs, video games (39.8 percent), electronics (37.7 percent), and jewelry (15.2 percent). Nearly one-third (32.6 percent) of shoppers bought gift cards over the weekend, up nearly 10 percentage points from the 23.1 percent who did so last year last year.