Huge discounts offered to consumers in early November may have hurt Black Friday sales, and the trouble may not be over.
Research from ShopperTrak shows that Black Friday retail sales at the store level rose so little over 2009 that the increase is barely perceptible.
“Black Friday sales showed a very slight increase over last year despite record spending for the day 0.3 percent increase versus the same period in 2009,” the report says.
This translated into disappointing revenue growth:
“… retail sales increased a very slight 0.3 percent versus last year with consumers spending $10.69 billion in various retail locations.”
Sales per purchase appear to have dropped because total “U.S. foot traffic increased 2.2 percent on Black Friday which points to a shopper driven by various sales and promotions.” The increases in store visits is larger than overall sales growth
ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin said, “Retailers were very conscious of driving traffic early in November and in doing so some might have thinned Black Friday spending a bit. The reality is we have a deal driven consumer in 2010 and that consumer responded to some of the earliest deep discounts we’ve even seen for the holidays.”
The trend may well have become the “new normal” as more retailers have moved promotions and discounts into early November or even late October. Consumers risk that prices will not go lower as Christmas comes closer. This has been the pattern in previous years as stores sold unused inventory. Shoppers suppose, instead, that desperate retailers will put their best offers forward at the beginning of the season.
Retailers, anxious to bring in sales, may have put forward their best deals too early. Ironic.
Douglas A. McIntyre
ShopperTrak is the largest global traffic measurement company in the work. It has installed over 60,000 traffic counting sensors in 74 countries and count an estimated 13 billion world-wide shopping visits a year.