Black Friday: More Shoppers Spent Less Money

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that traffic was up in stores around the country, but that shoppers were spending about 3.5% less per person than last year, or about $347.44.

“It’s kind of encouraging that Black Friday didn’t suck all the wind out of shoppers’ sails,” said Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak RCT Corp., which monitors 45,000 retail outlets. The weekend turnout, he added, “bodes well for the holiday season.”

ShopperTrak found in-store sales Saturday were up 5.4% over last year and the Friday-Saturday total posted a 7.2% increase over 2006.

Online traffic rose 10% from a year earlier, according to data released Sunday from research firm Nielsen Online.

As in past years, “doorbuster” deals coaxed many to open their wallets. In addition to pushing flat-screen TVs, last year’s must-have item, retailers have used less expensive electronics to bait consumers who vow to spend less this year, Krugman said. Hot sellers included digital photo frames and cameras. Deals on laptops were also common.

Many shoppers who rushed to the stores early found only a handful of some advertised bargains in stock, said Britt Beemer, chairman of America’s Research Group. “There were a lot of unhappy customers,” he said, adding that some stores said they didn’t get their shipments.

Anecdotally, we popped into a few stores on Black Friday afternoon just to see what was what, and witnessed heaps of so-called doorbusters and very few shoppers. We overheard one Best Buy employee telling another that “it was completely dead today.”

We then bought a KitKat bar because there were tons of registers open and basically no line. Delicious.


Store traffic doesn’t let up
[LA Times]
(Photo:Tengaport)

Comments

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  1. Skiffer says:

    How does this “bode well for the holiday season”?

    So…
    People aren’t spending as much this season – so there was a record turn-out for the Black Friday sales.

    Doesn’t that mean there will be less people shopping for full-price goods the rest of the season?

  2. hn333 says:

    I hope that walmart guy didn’t show up. :P

    God, I hate shopping. I’m not buying anything this year.

  3. JustinAche says:

    I ended up getting a rain check for a hard drive at Target, which they are not honoring now. So we’ll see if a successful EEMB will fix that

  4. Bladefist says:

    I heard on rush this morning that it was up 8% from last year. Sorry liberals, you’ll have to use something else to prove america is falling.

  5. freshyill says:

    @Bladefist: You seem so crazy it’s awesome.

  6. bunnymen says:

    I didn’t even leave the house last Friday.

  7. I rolled up to BB at about 3:15 am Friday to try to get a deal on a laptop and apparently I was about 9 hours too late. We were like number 400 in line and everything but a few big televisions and some digi cams were spoken for. I am a sad sad person.

  8. Bladefist says:

    @freshyill: :) well it just made me happy because the media was waiting for black friday to fail, to further prove our economy is in big trouble. Then we find out black friday sales up 8%, and it just made me happy. 1) because I support america, and like to have a good economy. 2) because I like it when the media is wrong.

  9. Noyo says:

    Maybe when retailers realize that the war is draining the pocketbooks of the consumers, there will finally be a voice in Congress to find other ways of fighting terrorism. The cost of the war so far is the amount consumers would spend in 2 normal Christmas seasons of 1/2 trillion each. One trillion would have outfitted 2.5 million homes with $40,000 solar systems, decreasing the need for oil for 20 -40 years, and cleaning up the global oven effects.

    Witty ? When Bush leaves office, gas will be at $9.11/gallon. That’s what we’ll remember him for.

    Wittier still ? What does a country and western hip hop artist buy his sweetie for Christmas ?

    A Bling of Fire !

  10. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @Bladefist:

    Obviously he was high on painkillers.

  11. lowlight69 says:

    i didn’t leave the house on friday. enjoyed some great left overs and played with my daughter. :) i didn’t even spend money on a kitkat bar friday. :)

    to Jaysyn: that’s a good line. :)

  12. Celticlady says:

    OK…on a happy Black Friday note, I ordered the BF specials online from Circuit City on Thursday AM, and they arrived TODAY!! (hell yeah, free shipping…so I didn’t spend money on gas either!)

    No standing onlines for me this year!

    Once in a while, ya have to give props when a store gets it right.

  13. Skiffer says:

    Everyone I know is getting Euros and gold for christmas…

  14. martster says:

    @Bladefist: Who says black friday didn’t fail? Sales were up, but what about profit margins. We buyers only buying the low margin sale items?

    As they’ve pointed out buyers were spending less this year, which would make me think they weren’t buying the high profit margin items. Just the big sale items.

    1) Support America by going into deficit spending? I for one am not going to go out and spend money on crap I don’t need just to support these companies.
    2) The media is often wrong. Doesn’t take much.

  15. TPK says:

    And it’s also amusing to note the headline of choice by the LA Times… In an article full of good numbers, they had to look real hard to find the one negative sounding statistic they could find for the headline:

    “More than 147 million people hit the malls this weekend, up 4.8% over last year, but they spend 3.5% less per person.”

    That is a big “so what”, but they had to make it sound terrible, of course, we can’t have anyone thinking the economy is doing even OK…

    I was in one of the standard Mall-Anchor chains on Friday, and I took a short ride in an in-store elevator around 3PM or so, and two sales associates were discussing the day’s progress. One said to the other that they were already well ahead of last year’s total sales, and there were still several hours left in the day before closing. The implication was that management was quite pleased with the day’s results.

    You won’t read much good news about this in the media, it doesn’t further their agenda.

  16. MBZ321 says:

    Didn’t spend a dime on black friday. Not out of protest or anything, but poor economy = poor sales, which was reflected in everyone’s ad compared to last year. Some okay laptop deals, but nothing that can’t be found in a few months on fatwallet.

  17. @Bladefist: Yeah consumer spending on foreign stuff means the economy is flourishing.

    1. Buy everything from China
    2. ???
    3. Economy Flourishes!

  18. UpsetPanda says:

    More shoppers, but less money spent sounds like to me that in a lot of cases, more people probably meant less opportunity to spend, not that more people meant more people would buy stuff. I know a lot of people were hoping for a Wii. I was lucky, but there were a few people at the back of the line I was in that didn’t get one because the store only had seven in stock. There could’ve been 40 people in line, but it doesn’t change that there were only seven Wiis.

    It’s possible the opportunity to spend just wasn’t there – there wasn’t a good enough diversity of items people wanted to buy or there just wasn’t enough stock. I know Guitar Hero III was sold out pretty much everywhere by the afternoon on Black Friday.

  19. DrGirlfriend says:

    I leafed through Black Friday ads, and even ventured out on Friday morning, and didn’t find many sales that were any more amazing than a regular sale. I might have actually spent more if the good deals hadn’t been reserved for like 3 things.

  20. freshyill says:

    I waited in a very short line at the Best Buy in Scranton, Pa. They didn’t even have all of their registers open. Pretty much the same story at Toys R Us and a few other places I hit. Then again, I wasn’t one of the fools out there at 5 a.m.

    My roommate’s sister is a store manager at one of the outlet stores in Lancaster, Pa. She was on at midnight, and she says it was dead the whole time. Not just her store, but the parking lot was essentially empty.

    To those of you buying flat screen TVs for someone, that’s probably the least personal gift I can imagine. Put a little effing thought into it, would you?

  21. freshyill says:

    @Bladefist: I like it when the media is accurate. I guess we’re just different in that respect.

  22. Bladefist says:

    “pain killers” is just a cop out to actually maturely addressing the topic.

    @freshyill: I like it when the media isn’t trying to make us feel like our country sucks.

  23. UpsetPanda says:

    @freshyill: I actually really like flat screen TVs and if I knew someone was getting me one, I’d think it was pretty personal…not the fact that they were giving me a TV as personal, but that they spent time and effort in finding a good one. Also, I’d take that over a handmade fruit basket.

  24. spinachdip says:

    @Bladefist: Did you actually bother to look at the numbers?

    The numbers are discouraging on two fronts – sales are up, but per-customer spending is down, and more consumers were looking for black friday deals, which is less than encouraging for the rest of the holiday shopping season.

    Seriously, anyone who looks at all the indicators and doesn’t realize that the economy is heady to, if not already in, the shitter has some serious blinders on.

  25. spinachdip says:

    @bladefist: Good god, which “media” are you reading?

    We are talking about the same media that flag-waved us into Iraq, without questioning the White House or the inevitable consequences? The same media that’s shockingly naive about the current liquidity crunch or the spiralling value of the dollar? And the same media that publishes “Yay! Unemployment is down!” stories without pointing to more telling statistics like decreases in manufacturing jobs and slowed wage increases?

    Here’s a clue – it’s not the media that’s trying to make you feel bad about America, it’s reality, what with its well known liberal bias.

  26. HRHKingFriday says:

    My parents did Black Friday for the first time this year. Not because they were at the end of their credit limit…. they just thought it would be prudent to save for heating bills, etc. I’m sure a lot of other people did the same.

    It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the season unfolds. Most people I know are done with all but a couple of their gifts, and completely done with big ticket items (if any).

  27. @spinachdip: Hero for the day.

    “Here’s a clue – it’s not the media that’s trying to make you feel bad about America, it’s reality, what with its well known liberal bias.”

  28. akalish says:

    This is just another example of “How to lie with statistics.” Maybe not lie, but if you examine the numbers proportionally (which I won’t bother to do), they don’t neccessarily reflect a downturn, or a significant one. … Why is it that if we’re not spending all our money, Bernanke and his economics journalist cohorts get their panties in a twist?…

  29. spinachdip says:

    @akalish: I’m not sure what you mean by “proportionally”. I wish you’d explain it, because I’m trying to find the silver lining here and I can’t.

    It’s not the amount of money spent per se, but the context in which that amount appears. It may not actually reflect a downturn, but there are certainly a whole lot of other indicators that do, and the Black Friday numbers are, if not worrisome, at least less than promising.

    But look at the yield curve, the job numbers, the fact that the frickin’ Yen, even with the slowdown in the Japanese economy, is gaining on the Dollar – those *do* reflect a downturn.

    Given that context, I don’t understand how anyone can think the combination of lower profit margins, increase in Black Friday shoppers, and decreased spending per customer “bodes well”.

  30. Bladefist says:

    @spinachdip: lol you funny.