Weekend Shopping Report: Online and Thanksgiving Drive Increases

by Categorized: Economy, Retail Date:

Online and Thanksgiving night sales drove consumers to spend 12.8 percent more at stores and web sites over the weekend, but without those two engines, the boost was less dramatic.

The dollar increase in online spending was a whopping 21 percent, and the number of shoppers on Thanksgiving was also up 21 percent, according this years’ survey done for the National Retail Federation.

In all, 139 million Americans made 247 million shopping excursions over the long weekend, starting Thursday, up 9.3 percent from 226 million trips or online sprees in 2011, the survey showed.  And last year was a record, up from 212 million shopping trips the year before.

This year’s average outlay per-shopper: $423, up from the average of $398 spent last year.  In all, the total reached $59.1 billion this year, up from $52.4 billion reported last year in a similar survey.

These are big numbers, and NRF says retail accounts for one in four U.S. jobs, 42 million in all.  But that doesn’t mean holiday shopping drives the economy.  If the money passes through a retailer that buys foreign-made goods and pays low wages in its stores, the benefit could be very little.  And actual holiday gift-buying accounts for 3 percent of all retail, at most.

The retail federation said 54 percent of U.S. adults, or 129 million people, will shop online Monday, up from 52 percent last year, continuing a steady rise.  Among those, just 16 million admitted they would do so at work — yeah, right, nod nod, wink wink.

Separately, Chase reported Monday that total bricks-and-mortar store sales Thursday were up 71 percent from Thanksgiving 2011, and Friday sales were down 7.2 percent, as both the size of each transaction and the number of sales were down. Saturday and Sunday showed small gains, and online buying gained steam over the weekend, reaching a year-over-year increase of 49 percent, said chase, which uses its own credit card and transactions data.

There are no figures for Connecticut, only anecdotal reports. I spoke with the four stores that were in my column over the weekend on Small Business Saturday, and they said results were generally good.

“We actually had a phenomenal weekend, we were up for the three days over 30 percent…,” said Michael Hoinsky at Swag, a gift shop in Old Saybrook. “Average ticket was up…people were very optimistic.”

At Manchester Hardware, owner Bob Dorin reported “up big-time” Friday and Sunday, quiet Saturday — overall better than 2010 and 2009 but not as good as the windfall of post-storm 2011.  Much of his sales are for home repairs for folks who are home from work, but it counts just as much as a gift.

Other figures from this year’s and last year’s retail federation surveys:

* Thanksgiving Day and night was up to 35 million people — most of them in the Wal-Mart store in East Windsor where I witnessed the mayhem — from 29 million the year before. That means more than one out of every four people who shopped over the weekend did so before Black Friday started.

* The average shopper spent $172 online this Black Friday weekend  for a total of $24 billion.  Last year’s total was $19.8 billion, when shoppers averaged $150 each online.

* In-store shopping was $35.1 billion this year, up 7.7 percent — a nice piece of that coming from the big stores that opened on Thanksgiving.

* Online spending accounted for 41 percent of all purchases, up from 38 percent last year and 33 percent in 2010.

*Online spending this year was remarkably consistent across groups. The big jump this year was people 55 and over, who spent less overall — an average of $329 — but spent 39 percent of that online, up from 25 percent of their Black Friday weekend spending a year ago.

* What’s this about men procrastinating? Men and women were equally likely to shop, and men spent an average of $485, compared with $365 for women — a smaller difference than in 2011.

* Fifteen percent of shoppers used a smartphone to make a purchase, up just 1 percentage point from 2011. And 24 percent used a tablet to make a purchase, which was down from 26 percent in 2011.



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