Reports from the Shopping Cart: Retailers Speak Up about Black Weekend

In Reports, What's New, Industry News by Accessories Staff

black-fridayWashington and New York—Mixed reports about Black Weekend shopping came in this morning as retailers, analysts and trade associations relayed statements about sales. Some reported strong foot traffic even on Thanksgiving night. Others says traffic is for in-store sales and that Cyber Monday may actually wind up being the strongest sales day so far this season.

Here’s a sampling of what they’re saying:

NRF: Thanksgiving Weekend Off to a Great Start

The lines were long, the clicks were plenty and the stores were full says NRF President/CEO Matthew Shay about the start of the Thanksgiving shopping weekend.

After hearing from several of the industry’s CEOs and wrapping up his own observations about consumer shopping behaviors around Thanksgiving and Black Friday, Shay outlined his key takeaways and issued the following statement:

  • The importance of the store experience has been very obvious so far this weekend;
  • Online promotions have helped boost Thanksgiving Day shopping to levels even bigger than last year,
  • The holiday season is a marathon, not a sprint as there are several other important weekends to watch,
  • Early bird and uniquely-timed holiday deals are capturing the attention of both those looking for gifts and non-gifts.

“As early as the day before Thanksgiving, retailers rolled out the red carpet for their customers with uniquely-timed offers on electronics, apparel, sporting goods, toys and more,” said Shay. “The excitement continued into Thursday as reports of long lines outside stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday were matched by reports of record-breaking online sales.

On Target

“Target got a head start going into Black Friday with the record-breaking launch of Adele’s new album and our ‘10 Days of Deals’ promotion. The momentum continued with our Black Friday presale, and on Thanksgiving, we saw millions of shoppers take advantage of great offers online and in our stores. Overall, the response from our guests has been very positive, with some of the best days we’ve seen on Target.com,” said Brian Cornell, chairman/ceo at Target, who greeted holiday shoppers at the Jersey City Target Store in New Jersey on Thanksgiving. “We expect to see the demand continue throughout the weekend and into December as we offer more savings on the year’s most popular gifts, including Star Wars and Apple products.”

Kohl’s an Exception?

“We believe Thanksgiving shopping was a bust,” says SunTrust, following channel checks in the New York metro area, New England, and the Southeast starting yesterday and continuing through the night into Black Friday.

“Team members dispatched to malls had no problem finding parking or navigating stores,” says SunTrust, and there seemed to be more browsing than buying going on. In fact, say SunTrust, “Lines at Walmart and Target were about half of last year, but Kohl’s was the exception to lame traffic.”

Joining Kohl’s among early winners according to SunTrust are Aeropastale, Abercrombie & Fitch , American Eagle Outfitters and Kate Spade. New York & Co.was among the early losers. Gap scores both a win and a loss, with Old Navy looking good, but Gap stores not so much.

Hanging out at Minneapolis’ Mall of America, KeyBanc’s Edward Yruma says traffic looks weaker than past years. “It doesn’t look much busier than an average Saturday morning.”

Digital at Walmart

TVs, electronics and computers have dominated sales so far

TVs, electronics and computers have dominated sales so far

“Thanksgiving was an exciting day. It all started at midnight when we kicked off our Black Friday deals online,” says Steve Bratspies, chief merchandising officer, Walmart U.S. “All day Thursday, Walmart stores bustled with shoppers coming to pick up last minute Thanksgiving meal fixings – pies, canned vegetables and sweet potatoes were among the top items.

“Then, at 6:00 p.m., we turned on the Black Friday magic in stores. Customers were excited about the return of ‘one big Black Friday event.

“We’ve said this Black Friday would be the most integrated between Walmart stores and Walmart.com – and we delivered. Tens of millions of customers visited our digital and physical aisles to pick up video games and systems, televisions, movies and toys, many of the top items sold both on Walmart.com and in stores. And, they prepped beforehand – more than 25 million customers accessed store maps and the circular through our online and mobile tools for Black Friday.

“We’ve planned this event for more than a year. Our stores were organized, well-prepared and safe, and I couldn’t be prouder of how our associates served our customers. Our registers were lit up and queue lines went smoothly. To say thank you, we are giving hourly associates who worked in stores on Thanksgiving an additional 15% discount on a shopping trip this holiday season.

“And it’s not over. We’re ready to help our customers get their trees and lights ready for Christmas. Our Cyber Monday events kick off on Sunday night, with the deals available beginning at 8 p.m. ET. The excitement will keep going after that, as well. Our customers can trust us for low prices and rollbacks on gifts and their everyday essentials not just on one day, but for the entire season.”

Steady, Not Busy

Scott Tuhy, vice-president at Moody’s who tracks companies like Macy’s Inc., said crowds on Thursday evening in New Jersey were steady but not busy. He said some stores saw a fair amount of activity around orders that were placed online and picked up in stores.

Macy’s at Water Tower Place mall on a rainy Chicago morning saw thin crowds in the early hours of Friday after a fairly busy Thanksgiving evening, store associates said.’

Thanksgiving Online Sales Soar

Software firm Adobe tracked 100 million visits to about 4,500 retail websites Thursday and found that more than $1 billion has been spent online so far — and that numbers are projected to hit $1.7 billion by the end of the evening.

“Thanksgiving Day online sales continue to trend ahead of expectation as we head into the evening hours, when mobile shopping comes back into the mix,” Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst at Adobe Digital Index told TechCrunch.

Online Value Per Order up

IBM keeps track of online sales throughout Thanksgiving Day, publishing real-time numbers that showed the average value per order has been $142.55 as of 6 p.m. EST on Thursday. The value was up from $125.25 in 2014 and $132 in 2013. Mobile shopping, too, saw heavy traffic early Thursday, with an estimated 28% of all Thanksgiving Day sales being made on mobile devices, according to IBM.

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