More people hit the stores this Thanksgiving weekend than did last year, as big-box retailers opened their doors earlier than ever on Thursday.
Spending per shopper averaged $423 — $25 more than last year — from Thursday to Sunday, while total spending increased nearly 13 percent, to an estimated $59.1 billion, according to a survey the National Retail Federation released Sunday afternoon.
“I think the only way to describe the Thanksgiving openings is to call it a huge win,” said Matthew Shay, the trade group’s president and chief executive. Shopping, he said, “has really become an extension of the day’s festivities.”
About 35 million people visited stores and shopping websites Thursday, up from 29 million last year. More than double that number — 89 million, up from 86 million — shopped on Black Friday.
Black Friday was a big day in stores, but Thanksgiving was apparently a big shopping day online.
Data from online consumer analytics firm Experian Hitwise shows online traffic on the holiday increased 71 percent this year compared to the same day a year ago. It says the top 500 retail sites received more than 181 million total U.S. visits.
Experian’s Matt Tatham wrote in a blog post that online traffic to the top retail sites has been up 8 percent on average for the holiday week.
The most visited retail sites on Thanksgiving Day were Amazon, Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy and Sears. On Black Friday, they were Amazon, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target and J.C. Penney Co. According to Experian Hitwise, on Black Friday this year the website that saw the biggest increase in traffic was the Apple Store at 99 percent growth.
With its own workers standing up against poverty wages and exploitation, Walmart is siccing the cops on past and present employees, allegedly on false pretenses.
As Black Friday approached, the honchos at Walmart, the largest employer in the United States, found themselves at a loss to respond to a nationwide rebellion within the ranks of their near-captive workers — people who work for an average wage of $8.81 per hour , according to The National Memo, often in areas where Walmart is the only game in town for a job if you don’t have a college degree (or even if you do). And so it seems they started making stuff up, and pulling strings — in at least two locations — to get local police to do their bidding.
Across the country this Friday, Walmart workers and their supporters are conducting rallies and protests at or near Walmart stores, as shoppers line up in the pre-dawn hours for a crack at the super-bargains that are the retailer’s Black Friday hallmark.
For more than six months, two groups linked to the United Food & Commercial Workers union have been working on behalf of Walmart employees, demanding a living wage, a humane level of benefits, reasonable hours and an end to the company’s legendary retaliation against workers who seek to unionize and put an end to its abusive labor practices , including wage theft. Walmart employees number 1.4 million, and, as Catherine Ruetschlin of Demos reports, it is the country’s largest single employer of African Americans.
The groups, OUR Walmart and Making Change at Walmart , are relying largely on social media campaigns to organize what are expected to be thousands of Walmart workers walking off the job today. Aiding in the organizing are former Walmart employees, such as Alex Rivera, who claims he was fired by Walmart in Orlando this September for joining the OUR Walmart campaign, according to a report by The Nation ‘s Josh Eidelson.
On Wednesday, Rivera was handcuffed by Orlando police — in front of his former colleagues — when he entered the store in which he was formerly employed, because, Eidelson writes, Walmart managers appear to have falsely told police that the store had a ‘no tresspassing’ order against the former Walmart ‘associate,’ as the mega-retailer calls its employees.
Shoppers turned out in droves at malls and big-box stores around the country, taking advantage of Black Friday deals as retailers opened their doors earlier than ever on Thanksgiving.
Toys R Us, Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500) and Sears (SHLD, Fortune 500) got a head start on the big shopping weekend by opening at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. That’s even earlier than last year, when the toy retailer got a 9 p.m. start and Wal-Mart , the world’s largest retailer, opened at 10 p.m.
The crowd at the Toys R Us in New York’s Times Square started gathering about four hours ahead of the open, and was larger than it was last year, said CEO Jerry Storch.
“Our customers love the earlier opening,” said Storch. “The atmosphere is celebratory and the crowds have been happy and excited to start their holiday shopping.”
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If you think you’re hearing jingles earlier than ever this year, you’re not imagining it. In fact, some retailers started launching their holiday sales back in October. And consumers, who are eager to spend while sticking to budgets, are happy to get a head start.
“The Black Friday season is earlier than ever on both the retailer side and consumer side,” says Brad Wilson, founder of BradsDeals.com and BlackFriday2012.com, who notes that traffic on his Black Friday site was up 45 percent in October. “Retailers are climbing on top of themselves to put out an earlier ad,” he adds.
The coupon site RetailMeNot.com has coined a new term for the so-called “Christmas creep”—OctoNovemCember. In a survey of 1,000 parents, it found that four in 10 said they started their holiday shopping before November, and just 12 percent said they would wait to shop until Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. One in three said they would be completely done with their shopping by Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving.
In the battle for holiday shopping dollars, the early bird gets the worm. And with spending expected to rise more than 4 percent this year according to the National Retail Federation, retailers are doing everything they can to draw in consumers and build loyalty before this year’s holiday shopping melee.
And there’s a lot at stake—according to some estimates, the holiday season accounts for as much as 40 percent of total annual sales with many retailers still in the red before shoppers descend on their local malls on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving).
But times are changing. Despite improving confidence in the economy, consumers might still be feeling a bit wary about opening up their wallets and going overboard this holiday season thanks to sluggish economic growth and the fact that millions of Americans remain unemployed.
That’s meant retailers have had to get much more creative when it comes to pitching their wares to consumers, running advertisements and establishing holiday displays earlier than ever. By mid-October, Target had already started running its holiday commercial, a move that the industry hadn’t seen before.
While NRA officials view the numbers as an indication that more people feel a greater need for guns for self defense purposes, the FBI has yet to offer a theory regarding the spike in gun sales…
WASHINGTON (CNN) — December holiday shoppers were not just interested in buying the hottest electronics and toys — they also were purchasing record numbers of guns, according to the latest FBI figures on background checks required to buy firearms.
With a few days left in December, the FBI reports the number of background checks has already topped the previous one-month record — set only in November — of 1,534,414 inquiries by gun dealers to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System also known as NICS. Almost half a million checks were done in just the last six days before Christmas.
Two days before Christmas, NICS ran 102,222 background checks, which was the second-busiest day in history. The one-day record was set this year on Black Friday, the big shopping day following Thanksgiving, with 129,166 searches. By comparison, the previous one-day high was set November 28, 2008, when gun dealers made slightly less than 98,000 requests for background searches.
On the eve of “Cyber Monday,” online retailers reported an even stronger start to the holiday shopping season than brick-and-mortar stores.
Research firm comScore reported on Sunday that e-commerce spending jumped 26 percent on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, compared with the same day a year ago. ComScore reported $816 million in online sales for the day, up from $648 million.
The 26 percent growth rate for online sales compares with a 7 percent retail sales increase reported for Black Friday by ShopperTrak, which gathers data from individual stores and shopping malls. At $11.4 billion, the brick-and-mortar sales total still dwarfs the online total.
Gian Fulgoni, comScore chairman, said in a statement that e-commerce enjoyed a banner day, despite some analysts’ predictions that early store openings on Black Friday could hurt online sales.
“With brick-and-mortar retail also reporting strong gains on Black Friday, it’s clear that the heavy promotional activity had a positive impact on both channels,” Fulgoni said.
Thanksgiving is also a big day for online sales, and comScore reported an 18 percent increase this year compared with a year ago, with $479 million in sales.
Online sales also have been strong throughout November. Online sales through Saturday rose 15 percent compared with the same period a year ago, according to comScore, which is based on Reston, Va. Through the first 25 days of the month, online sales have totaled $12.74 billion.
ComScore said 50 million Americans visited online retail sites on Black Friday, up 35 percent from a year ago. Each of the top five retail sites reported double-digit gains in visitors, in percentage terms, led by top retail site Amazon. Walmart ranked second, followed by Best Buy, Target and Apple.
Next up is Cyber Monday, when many online retailers run promotions for the first business day of the week following Thanksgiving. Cyber Monday sales topped $1 billion last year, making it the heaviest day of online spending ever. ComScore’s Fulgoni expects another record will be set this year.
The holiday shopping season got off to a strong start on Black Friday, with retail sales up 7 percent over last year, according to the most recent survey. Now stores just have to keep buyers coming back without the promise of door-buster savings.
Buyers spent $11.4 billion at retail stores and malls, up nearly $1 billion from last year, according to a Saturday report from ShopperTrak. It was the largest amount ever spent on the day that marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season, and the biggest year-over-year increase since 2007. Chicago-based ShopperTrak gathers data from 25,000 outlets across the U.S., including individual stores and shopping centers.
The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. broke its Black Friday record for shoppers, thanks to a decision to open at midnight for the first time. Around 210,000 visitors came to the mall on Friday, up from 200,000 last year, according to mall spokeswoman Bridget Jewell.
Online shopping was strong as well, with a 24.3 percent increase in online spending on Black Friday, according to IBM, which tracks sales at 500 online retailers.
Bill Martin, who founded ShopperTrak, said he was surprised by the strong showing. He had expected the weak economy to dent consumer confidence and keep more shoppers out of the stores, or at least from spending much. Instead, he said, they responded to a blanket of promotions, from 60- and 70-percent off deals to door-buster savings on electronics.
“I’m pleased to see it. You can’t have a great season without having a good Black Friday,” Martin told The Associated Press in an interview.
Sales were also up 4 percent each in the two weeks leading up to Black Friday, as retailers started their promotions earlier than usual or extended their hours.
Still, he suspects things will quiet down this weekend, as promotions end and the buying frenzy subsides. ShopperTrak is expecting holiday sales to be up 3.3 percent this season. Retailers generally rely on sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas to make up 20 percent of their annual take.