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Black Friday Verdict: As Expected, Number of Shoppers Up, Average Spending Down

View complete survey results and historical Black Friday data
View corresponding survey on Cyber Monday expectations 

For Immediate Release
Kathy Grannis (202) 783-7971 or grannisk@nrf.com
www.nrf.com/holidays

Black Friday Verdict: As Expected, Number of Shoppers Up, Average Spending Down
-Americans Spent $41.2 Billion Over Holiday Weekend-

Washington, November 29, 2009 –As the closely-watched Black Friday weekend winds down, a National Retail Federation survey conducted over the weekend confirms the expected: more people spent less. According to NRF’s Black Friday shopping survey, conducted by BIGresearch, 195 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend*, up from 172 million last year. However, the average spending over the weekend dropped to $343.31 per person from $372.57 a year ago. Total spending reached an estimated $41.2 billion.

“Shoppers proved this weekend that they were willing to open their wallets for a bargain, heading out to take advantage of great deals on less expensive items like toys, small appliances and winter clothes,” said Tracy Mullin, NRF President and CEO. “While retailers are encouraged by the number of Americans who shopped over Black Friday weekend, they know they have their work cut out for them to keep people coming back through Christmas. Shoppers can continue to expect retailers to focus on low prices and bargains through the end of December.”

Shoppers’ destination of choice over the past weekend seemed to be department stores, with nearly half (49.4%) of holiday shoppers visiting at least one, a 12.9 percent increase from last year. Discount retailers took an uncharacteristic back seat, with 43.2 percent of holiday shoppers heading to discount stores over the weekend and another 7.8 percent heading to outlet stores.** Shoppers also visited electronics stores (29.0%), clothing stores (22.9%), and grocery stores (19.6%). As millions of shoppers gear up for Cyber Monday, one-fourth of Americans shopping over the weekend (28.5%) were shopping online.

“In an economy like this one, every retailer wants to be a discounter,” said Tracy Mullin, NRF President and CEO. “Department stores have done an admirable job touting both low prices and good quality, which are important requirements for holiday shoppers on a budget.”

According to the survey, nearly one-third (32.2%) of shoppers purchased toys, an increase of 12.9 percent from last year. Additionally, more people purchased sporting goods (12.6% vs. 11.4% last year), personal care or beauty items (22.4% vs. 19.0%) and gift cards (21.2% vs. 18.7%). The most popular purchases were of clothing
(50.9%) and books (40.3%), which remained nearly unchanged over last year.

In order to nab the best holiday items, more shoppers headed out for bargains while it was still dark outside. According to the survey, nearly one-third of shoppers (31.2%) were at the stores by 5 a.m., compared with 23.3 percent who were at stores by that time last year.

“During a more robust economy, people may be inclined to hit the “snooze” button on Black Friday, but high unemployment and a focus on price caused shoppers to visit stores early in anticipation of the best deals,” said Phil Rist, Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, BIGresearch.

About the Survey

The survey, conducted Nov. 26-28, 2009 by BIGresearch for NRF, polled 4,985 consumers and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.4%. BIGresearch is a consumer market intelligence firm that provides unique consumer insights that are gathered online utilizing very large sample sizes.

BIGresearch’s syndicated Consumer Intentions and Actions survey monitors the pulse of more than 8,000 consumers each month to empower its clients with unique insights for identifying opportunities in a fragmented and changing marketplace.

The National Retail Federation is the world's largest retail trade association, with membership that comprises all retail formats and channels of distribution including department, specialty, discount, catalog, Internet, independent stores, chain restaurants, drug stores and grocery stores as well as the industry's key trading partners of retail goods and services. NRF represents an industry with more than 1.6 million U.S. retail establishments, more than 24 million employees - about one in five American workers - and 2007 sales of $4.5 trillion. As the industry umbrella group, NRF also represents more than 100 state, national and international retail associations. www.nrf.com

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* NRF’s definition of “Black Friday weekend” includes Thursday, Friday, Saturday and projected spending for Sunday.   

** NRF broke out “discount stores” and “outlet stores” this year for the first time; historical information is not available.