Black Friday weekend: A boon for retail industry, NRF finds

WASHINGTON — This Black Friday weekend proved to be a help to retailers, as shopper traffic and spending both increased, the National Retail Federation said.

While 212 million shoppers visited stores and websites this weekend, up from 195 million shoppers last year, the average shopper spend totaled $365.34 this weekend, a 6.4% increase from last year. Total spending reached an estimated $45 billion, NRF said.

What's more, NRF revealed, Black Friday shopping began earlier, as midnight shopping increased — among those surveyed — to 9.5%, triple the amount of shoppers last year. By 4 a.m., nearly one-quarter (24%) of Black Friday shoppers already were at the stores. Thanksgiving Day openings also have been a boon to the industry, as the number of people who shop on Thanksgiving — both online and in stores — has doubled over the past five years, from 10.3 million in 2005 to 22.3 million in 2010.

As far as where shoppers headed this weekend, both department stores (52% this year versus 49.4% last year) and clothing stores (24.4% versus 22.9%) saw healthy increases in traffic, while the percentage of people who shopped at discounters declined 7.2% to 40.3% this year. Similarly, online shopping saw a boost this weekend, rising 15.2% to 33.6% this year — a strong sign heading into Cyber Monday, NRF said.

“While Black Friday weekend is not always an indicator of holiday season performance, retailers should be encouraged that a focus on value and discretionary gifts has shoppers in the spirit to spend,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO. “As retailers look ahead to the first few weeks of December, it will be important for them to keep momentum going with savings and incentives that holiday shoppers simply can’t pass up.”

NRF's Black Friday weekend includes Thursday, Friday, Saturday and projected spending for Sunday.