Blog: Black Friday shoppers flock to bargains

Joe Ayling | 30 November 2009

Last week saw the beginning of the all-important holiday season for fashion retailers in the US, who are looking for a happy ending to a gloomy 2009 at the checkout.

Some retailers, including the festive favourite Gap Inc, moved their Black Friday sales events forward one day, meaning they were open for business on Thanksgiving Day.

Others, such as JC Penney, used e-commerce stores to drum up interest online in advance of the weekend, and tantalise consumers with free shipping deals.

In the end, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said that while numbers of shoppers were up compared to last year's Black Friday weekend, they were, on average, spending less.

Indeed, the NRF found in a survey that 195m shoppers visited stores and websites, up from 172m last year. However, the average spending on all goods over the weekend dropped to $343.31 per person from $372.57 a year ago.

It said that 22.9% of shoppers headed for specialist clothing stores to top up their winter wardrobes, while department stores proved most popular.

The decrease in average spend per customer will be disconcerting for apparel and footwear retailers striving to improve inventories but hold a reasonable price-point, and sees discount retailers continue to win most traffic.

As Tracy Mullin, NRF president and CEO, said: "In an economy like this one, every retailer wants to be a discounter."

However, there are encouraging signs for suppliers ahead of the holiday season, as consumers in the US are once more flocking to stores, albeit in search of a bargain.

By Joe Ayling, news editor.


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