Inside This Issue - News
Holiday selling season gets off to shaky start
December 9th, 2013
NEW YORK – Americans crowded into stores over Thanksgiving weekend to take advantage of Black Friday deals, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). But while store traffic was up, spending was down.
"Cold weather, unique promotions and unbeatable prices put millions of Americans in the mood to shop for holiday gifts," said NRF president and chief executive officer Matthew Shay, who predicted that retailers will continue to aggressively promote their in-store and online offerings to woo budget-conscious and value-focused shoppers.
An NRF survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics found that nearly 45 million shoppers visited stores on Thanksgiving Day, a 12% increase over last year, and more than 92 million people shopped on Black Friday, up from about 89 million last year.
But shoppers spent about $407.02 (on average) each over the holiday weekend, down from $423.55 last year. And total spending for the weekend was estimated at $57.4 billion, down about 3% (or $1.7 billion) compared to last year.
Walmart and Target Corp. both reported that their aggressive promotions were effective in driving traffic to stores and their websites. Walmart says that from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day it processed more than 10 million register transactions in its stores. Walmart.com processed nearly 400 million page views on Thanksgiving Day, including those from customers accessing the site via their phones or tablets.
"We said Black Friday is the Super Bowl of retail, and we ran a play that only Walmart could deliver, and our customers loved it," said Walmart U.S. president and CEO Bill Simon. "Our Black Friday events were bigger, better, faster, cheaper and safer."
Target, too, reported crowds as shoppers turned up to take advantage of deals.
"Our guests told us they want top gifts at a great value, and our team delivered," said Target chairman, president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel on Black Friday. "Whether online, on their mobile devices, or in our stores, guests shopped Target in unprecedented numbers."
For many retailers, though, store traffic during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend was not enough to lift November sales very much. Thomson Reuters reported that for 11 of the retailers they track, same-store sales in November were up just 1.8%. (Neither Walmart nor Target report monthly sales.)
Costco Wholesale Corp. reported net sales of $8.78 billion for the four weeks ended December 1, up 5% from the comparable prior-year period. Same-store sales for the entire company increased 2%, or 4% when the negative impacts from gasoline price deflation and foreign exchange rates are excluded. Analysts had expected a 3.3% increase, according to Thomson Reuters.
Fred’s Inc. reported flat same-store sales in November — an improvement over the 3.6% decline the chain reported last November. Meanwhile, Fred’s total sales for the month were up 1%.
Rite Aid Corp. reported a 2.8% same-store sales gain. Front-end same-store sales rose just 0.4%, but pharmacy same-store sales were up 3.9%. Of that, Rite Aid estimates a 1.6% gain was due to weaker performance in the prior-year period because of Superstorm Sandy.