Time > Week
p. 7 31
for most of this week
later this week
in a few weeks' time
the week ahead
be just a week
every other week
idUSTRE74G41320110517 - MAY 17, 2011
every two weeks
a couple of weeks
with one week to
for a weekend
at the weekend
over the weekend
over the holiday weekend
throughout the weekend
on the weekend before Thanksgiving
Retailers See Record Numbers
The New York Times
By STEPHANIE CLIFFORD
aggressive promotions from retailers, American consumers opened their wallets
over the holiday weekend in a way they had not since before the recession,
setting records in sales and traffic.
The National Retail Federation said Sunday that spending per shopper surged 9.1
percent over last year — the biggest increase since 2006 — to an average of
almost $400 a customer. In all, 6.6 percent more shoppers visited stores on the
Thanksgiving weekend than last year.
“American consumers have been taking a deep breath and making a decision that
it’s O.K. to go shopping again,” despite the high unemployment rate and other
signs of caution, said Ellen Davis, vice president at the National Retail
Numbers from ShopperTrak, a consumer research service, showed equally strong
results, with in-store sales on Friday rising by 6.6 percent over last year’s
Thanksgiving Friday to $11.4 billion.
Yet there were signs the gains might not last. Analysts said that traffic to
stores seemed to slow through the weekend, suggesting that the big start to the
holiday season might peter out over time. And shoppers were using credit cards
in large numbers, mall owners and analysts said, signaling that consumers were
willing to sacrifice savings more than last year, when they paid with cash more
“With consumers, it’s emotional, so they might feel they need Christmas this
year,” said Margaret Taylor, vice president and senior credit officer in the
corporate finance group at Moody’s Investors Service. “They could be willing to
take on more credit.”
Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities, said in a note to
clients that he expected that “consumers will dig into savings” or “temporarily
tack on a little more debt” during the holidays.
Retailers hardly objected. Total spending, including online sales, reached an
estimated $52.4 billion Thursday through Sunday, the National Retail Federation
said. About 35 percent of that total was spent online, slightly higher than last
year, the federation said, suggesting that online retailers’ attempts to attract
in-store shoppers worked well.
Bill Martin, founder of ShopperTrak, noted that the day after Thanksgiving,
usually the year’s biggest sales day, is “one day in a 60-day holiday season.”
Still, he said, “what we do know is without a strong start to the season it’s
pretty hard to have a good season.”
Given the tight budgets of customers, major retailers aggressively wooed
shoppers, moving back opening hours to midnight on Thanksgiving or earlier. It
seems to have worked, attracting more shoppers and giving them more hours on
Friday to spend.
Almost a quarter of people who went shopping the Friday after Thanksgiving were
in stores by midnight Thursday, the federation found. Among 18- to 34-year-olds
who went shopping, that percentage was higher — 36.7 percent — than it was among
35- to 54-year-olds, of whom 23.5 percent were in stores by midnight.
“Early Black Friday openings and Thanksgiving-night openings are simply to get a
larger share of the customer’s wallet,” Ms. Davis said, adding that research
showed that customers tend to spend more at their first stop than at subsequent
Though the longer Friday hours helped bump up sales, some analysts said they
might have taken away from steady shopping through the weekend.
“Our perspective is that Black Friday peaked early this year and then lost some
of its luster,” said Alison Jatlow Levy, a retail strategist at the consulting
firm Kurt Salmon. On Saturday, “the malls felt like an average busy Saturday,
but not like a Black Friday extravaganza.”
At the midnight opening of Macy’s Herald Square on Thanksgiving, about 9,000
customers were in line, up from 7,000 last year. Most looked quite young, many
saying they had come for the late-night spectacle rather than for specific
Kester Richards, 18, was at the front of the line and said he had waited four
hours. He said he was a regular Macy’s shopper and was looking for Ralph Lauren
clothes, but had never been to Black Friday before.
Kyun Il Bae, 21, and In Jung Choi, 21, South Korean students studying in New
York State, said they had heard about the event and wanted to see what it was
like. “I just like the atmosphere,” Mr. Bae said. “It’s a popular place, and I
heard this is crazy.” Later, in the store, Mr. Bae did not seem as enthusiastic.
He shrugged when asked if he had found any good deals, and looked more exhausted
The midnight openings also may have contributed to the unusually high number of
men who were in stores. More men than women shopped throughout the weekend, and
they spent more per person, according to the retail federation.
“Men really aren’t willing to pull themselves out of bed at 4 a.m. for a
bargain, but they will go” late at night, Ms. Davis said. “Men are increasingly
budget-focused, and like the idea of looking for good deals.”
Stores selling to people of different income levels chose different tactics on
Friday, with many of the low- and middle-income retailers opening early with
“door-buster” discounts, and the luxury stores moving back their opening times
by just an hour or two. Still, Mr. Martin said, sales “were pretty good across
all manner of retailers.”
According to the federation, department stores and discounters were the most
popular destinations over the weekend, followed by electronics stores.
Shoppers interviewed Thursday night and Friday sounded as if they were on tight
budgets, and that drove them to stores.
Amanda Ponce, 40, stood outside a Target in downtown Chicago, an Xbox 360 for
her 8-year-old daughter on her shopping list. At $139.99, marked down from
$199.99, the savings were crucial this year, she said, since she will be buying
“We’ve had a lot harder time living the same lifestyle that we lived,” she said,
saying that her husband, a marketing consultant, had been taking on extra work.
“We’re focusing more on specifically what she wants instead of an abundance of
gifts. Things she’ll actually use and play with.”
At a J. C. Penney in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Maria Aguilar was not buying
presents — she had come in for deals on a coffeepot and a griddle.
“We are definitely cutting back,” said Ms. Aguilar, 45, an instructional
assistant from Norco, Calif. She said that this year, her family was buying
gifts for “just the little ones, just the children.”
and Steven Yaccino contributed reporting.
For a Weekend, at Least, Retailers See Record Numbers,
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