Heavy discounting and promotions helped entice customers to splurge this past Friday as the holiday shopping season began on a positive note despite lingering economic concerns. Retail sales on Black Friday rose 6.6 percent year on year to $11.4 billion while foot traffic increased 5.1 percent, according to ShopperTrak, a provider of retail data.
“Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year and the traditional start to the holiday shopping season,” said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin. “Despite our sluggish economy, shoppers proved they are looking for value and ready to buy if given a good customer experience.”
He cautioned, however, that it is still too early to tell whether consumers will sustain the positive trend through the entire holiday season. ShopperTrak explained that record number of pre-promotions and extended shopping hours in the weeks leading up to Black Friday accounted for some of the increases.
“Granted, the economy is still sputtering, but slight increases in the employment rate mean fewer workers fear layoffs,” Martin added. “While consumers are still extremely value-conscious, they clearly responded to retailer price reductions and ‘door-buster’ promotions.”
As part of the bargain hunting expected this holiday season, IBM Coremetrics reported that more consumers are shopping online reporting a 39.3 percent increase in online Thanksgiving spending this year, compared to 2010, and a 24.3 percent rise on Black Friday. Sales on mobile devices, including the use of tablets, jumped 9.8 percent, which was above the average increase for the year of 3.2 percent through this medium.
“This year marked Thanksgiving’s emergence as the first big spending day of the 2011 holiday season with a record number of consumers shifting their focus from turkey to tablets and the search for the best deals,” said John Squire, chief strategy officer of IBM Smarter Commerce. “This momentum continued into Black Friday where the big winners were those retailers that delivered a smarter commerce experience with compelling, relevant deals that people could easily access from their channel of choice.”