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Thanksgiving and Black Friday are still the busiest shopping days for stores, but traffic is declining. In 2018, it fell as much as 9 percent from 2017. The number of people visiting stores in 2017 was 4 percent lower than in 2016. RetailNext Inc. analyzed in-store videos to count the shoppers.
In 2016, there were 101.7 million people who braved the crowds. That’s more than the 74 million in 2015. The next biggest day was Saturday when 64 million people went to stores. Only 33 million shopped on Sunday. The fewest, 29 million, left their homes on Thanksgiving Day 2016. In total, 137 million people went to stores over the four-day Black Friday weekend in 2016. That’s a third more than the 102 million in 2015.
More people went online since stores put their best deals on their websites. Online sales for Wednesday through Black Friday was 26.4 percent higher than in 2017, estimated Adobe Systems. In 2017, online sales were up 18 percent.
Black Friday is part of the holiday shopping season. That includes November and December, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). The NRF forecasts that sales will be up 4.1 percent in 2018. It doesn’t expect the trade war to cut back on sales because retailers stocked up on inventory. Otherwise, the tariffs would increase on most consumer goods imported from China.
Early reports from Mastercard SpendingPulse saw total sales, excluding automobiles, up 5.1 percent between November 1 and December 24 from the prior year. Consumers spent $850 billion. Online shopping grew 19.1 percent during that period.
On average, shoppers expect to spend $1,007.24 each. Of that, they’ll spend $637.67 on gifts. Another $215.04 will go for food, decorations, flowers, and greeting cards. They’ll also spend $154.53 to take advantage of the seasonal deals and promotions.
Here are the past 15 years of retail sales data. The average annual increase is 2.5 percent, thanks to the steep 4.6 percent decline in 2008. Before the 2008 financial crisis, the 10-year average annual increase was 3.5 percent.
|Year||Spent per Shopper||Total Spent||Percent Increase|
The NRF survey reported that stores would hire between 500,000 and 550,000 seasonal workers in 2017. That’s fewer than the record 764,750 workers hired in 2013. At least it’s not as bad as the 263,820 workers hired in 2008.
The best Black Friday deals are, surprisingly, not on Black Friday. Many retailers, including Amazon, offer deals earlier and earlier, upstaging Black Friday itself. The competition this year is so fierce, stores are innovating new ways to get your dollar.
Research reveals that the most deals for electronics are offered at the beginning of November. The best day for Christmas decor is November 22. Discounts are 23 percent on average. The best day to buy toys is the day before Thanksgiving.
The number of deals hit their peak the week before Thanksgiving. The average in-store discount is 20 percent for the entire week. That discount increases to 37 percent on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Saturday.
Online sales are the best on Thanksgiving Day, not Black Friday. The average discount is 24 percent. It’s the best day to find online discounts for sporting goods, computers, apparel, and video games.
But Black Friday itself is the best day for online deals on TVs, tablets, appliances, and jewelry. The days from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday capture 20 percent of all holiday online shopping. Use these statistics to get the best Black Friday deals. In addition, don’t forget deals offered on Green Monday (usually the second Monday of December). It’s the last day to shop online and be sure that your package arrives before Christmas.
Stores like Best Buy and Walmart are trying to get Black Friday shoppers into their stores. Although shoppers will never completely abandon brick-and-mortar stores, they expect retailers to offer a convenient online alternative. To compete with Amazon, Best Buy offered some of the most popular items in their stores exclusively. Walmart stocked DVDs, pajamas, and other items customers prefer to pick up in stores. Still, more than 75 percent of the most popular toys were bought on www.walmart.com.
Most stores must rally all their skills to convince shoppers to get dressed, get in their cars, and drive to pick up merchandise. As a result, retailers are less likely to build new stores. That hurts commercial real estate, neighborhood shopping centers, and jobs.