The overall spending decline, the second annual drop in a row, came in part because retailers began offering deals in the run up to Thanksgiving, reflecting the dip in store traffic on Black Friday.
Total spending from Thursday through Sunday fell 11% year-on-year to $50.9bn, according to the NRF’s Thanksgiving Weekend Spending Survey, which surveyed 4,600 online and brick-&-mortar consumers on Friday and Saturday.
The retail trade group said the number of people who went shopping over the four-day weekend also declined 5.2% on-year to 134m. It had expected over 140m shoppers this time.
Meanwhile, shoppers spent an average of $380.95 over the weekend, down 6.4% from a year earlier’s $407.02.
Its research showed some 55.1% of Holiday shoppers expected to be in stores and online over Thanksgiving weekend, down from 58.7% in the previous year. Additionally, 77.2% said they took advantage of retailers’ online and in-store promotions to buy non-gift items for themselves or their family, in comparison with last year’s 76.4%.
NRF CEO Matthew Shay said: “A strengthening economy that changes consumers’ reliance on deep discounts, a highly competitive environment, early promotions and the ability to shop 24/7 online all contributed to the shift witnessed this weekend.”
The trade group still expects total Holiday sales through the end of the year to rise 4.1%.
Black Friday, the steep discount shopping day that traditionally kicks off the Holiday season in the US, still produced record sales for many online retailers, especially eBay and Amazon, which reported sales increases of 27% and 24%, respectively, on Black Friday.
Online sales Friday rose 22% on-year, according to ChannelAdvisor, while Custora said sales rose 20.6% and Adobe reported a 24% for the day. However, IBM said online sales climbed 9.5% over the same day last year.
Purchases made using mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, accounted for 27-30% of total online sales on Friday.
But the traditional crowds of bargain hunters that rush through store doors the day after Thanksgiving were down, with footfall off 5.6% and sales down 7% on a year ago with US shoppers spending $9.1bn in-stores, according to data out Saturday from research firm ShopperTrak.
However, sales on Thanksgiving day jumped 24% to $3.2bn with footfall up 27.3%. Overall sales for the two days are expected to down 0.5% to $12.29bn, excluding online transactions.
For the second straight year, reports suggest that more consumers avoided the crowds on Black Friday by shopping on Thanksgiving Day. This year, many large retail stores decided to open their doors to eager shoppers for extended hours on the holiday.
“People are changing their behaviour,” said ShopperTrak’ s co-founder Bill Martin. “We’ve seen this for two years in a row now. Stores opening on Thanksgiving are simply eroding sales from Black Friday.”
• US shoppers spent $32bn online between November 1-28, up 14% year-on-year, according to Adobe’s 2014 Digital Index Online Shopping data. Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday set new sales records with $1.33bn and $2.4bn, respectively. For the first time, smartphones nearly doubled their share of total online sales on both days to $1.29bn and is expected to surpass Cyber Monday in growth this year, it noted. The average order value for sales coming directly from a social network was led by Facebook with $114.45. “Consumer use of larger screen smartphones helped drive significant increases in mobile online sales – enough to set records two days in a row,” said Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst, Adobe Digital Index. “This year’s Thanksgiving holiday results demonstrated the power of big data to build predictive models. From average discounts to mobile share and overall sales numbers, Adobe hit the mark for the third year in a row.”
• US value retail giant Target Corp reported strong Thanksgiving Day traffic as shoppers focused on big-ticket electronic items. Target said mobile sales were a key driver, as online orders and sales increased more than 40% from the year before. Top-selling online items included iPads, Nikon L330 camera, Beats by Dre Solo HD headphones, the Dyson DC50 Allergy vacuum and the Sony PlayStation 4 Bundle. In stores, Target’s top-selling items included the Element 40-inch television and Xbox One. In the first hour of stores being open, Target said it sold 1,800 televisions per minute and 2,000 videogames per minute. Other popular items were the Keurig K40 Brewer and the KitchenAid Classic Plus Stand Mixer. This year, Target also had tried offering certain presale Black Friday deals in stores and online Wednesday. By 9am Wednesday, online sales had exceeded total sales from the same day last year, the company said.
• Americans will spend $2.5bn doing their Holiday shopping online on Cyber Monday in what is expected to be the biggest day to date, research firm comScore predicts.