Holiday weekend’s sales percentages rise little from last year’s numbers despite earlier hours

Allison Kroll

Although some retailers opened earlier than usual to accommodate shoppers on Black Friday, the extended hours did not translate into more sales, according to a shopping trend analysis firm. Nationally, there was only a 0.3 percent increase in sales from this day last year, according to ShopperTrak, a shopper-traffic and data analysis company. Shoppers spent $10.69 billion on Friday, up from $10.66 billion last year. Advertising professor Neal Burns said shoppers probably spend more money during Black Friday than any other weekend of the year. “There is a strong desire to stimulate the economy, especially during a period when the economy hasn’t been doing too well,” Burns said. “Economists will look at the results more seriously than they have in previous years to look for any changes and improvements.” The sales increase from 2008 to 2009 was slightly higher at 0.5 percent, according to ShopperTrak. However, total foot traffic in the United States increased by 2.2 percent this year. “Consumers think it will be a day of great buys and sales,” Burns said. “Generally speaking, what you’re trying to do is bring people into the stores with extraordinary offers. That’s a tactic that helps build traffic.” Debra Wendrock, store manager for Macy’s in Highland Mall, said the store’s turnout on Friday followed the national trend, seeing a large increase in foot traffic compared to last year. “There were a lot of great offers this year, and I think that’s what brought people into the stores,” Wendrock said. “It’s hard to stay at home when you can get that perfect gift item for a significantly reduced price.” Customers crowded into Macy’s at 4 a.m. to take advantage of early morning sales, even though the store and other local retailers offered the same specials through Saturday. “People pick and choose and are very planned with the way they shop,” Wendrock said. “For some customers, it’s a traditional thing. Some bring their aunts, uncles, sisters and cousins — their entire family — to participate in this shopping event.” Black Friday trends have also recently translated to online sales, Burns said. “The one thing that I think is interesting about Black Friday is that it is bleeding over into Black Thursday for a number of brick-and-mortar stores,” said marketing administration professor Leigh McAlister. “I’ve heard that this is a reaction to the fact that online stores are open 24 hours a day and the fact that online stores begin offering deals on Thanksgiving Thursday.” In comparison to the results of in-store sales, Friday’s online sales increased by 15.9 percent and customers spent 12.1 percent more than last year online, which followed a 33-percent increase in sales on Thanksgiving Day, according to IBM’s Coremetrics Benchmark Report for Black Friday. Karrol Kitt, a human development and family sciences associate professor, said one problem with Black Friday is holiday spending behavior can turn into an impulse affair. “Having a list and understanding what you want to pay for the gifts is a smart way to remain within a spending budget or plan,” she said. “The marketing is what enhances our desire to buy and our affection with material gifts, which we all too easily fall into and overspend.”