Retail Federation Sees Bright Side of Black Friday Sales Slide

While there was a 5.2 percent decline in Thanksgiving-weekend shoppers from 2013, the National Retail Federation says that doesn't necessarily mean weak spending for the holiday season in general—just a shift in consumer mindset.

The 5.2 percent decline in Thanksgiving-weekend shoppers this year doesn’t foreshadow weak spending for the holiday season in general, says the National Retail Federation. Instead, NRF sees a shift in consumer mindset.

For a news release filled with not-too-great news, the announcement about the National Retail Federation’s 11th annual Thanksgiving Weekend Spending Survey, released Sunday, had a pretty upbeat tone.

NRF, which reported that the holiday season’s biggest sales weekend will have less to show for it than last year’s, said the decline in sales highlights larger economic shifts rather than weaknesses in the retail sector.

“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,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in the release. “We are excited to be witnessing an evolutionary change in holiday shopping by both consumers and retailers, and expect this trend to continue in the years ahead.”

About Those Numbers …

The NRF poll [PDF], conducted with Prosper Insights & Analytics, found that between Thanksgiving Day and Sunday, 133.7 million people shopped, a drop of 5.2 percent from 141.1 million last year. Accounting for store visits, including multiple excursions by the same consumer, the 233.3 million trips in 2014 was a bit shy of the 248.6 million in 2013.

And consumers who shopped over the holiday weekend planned to spend less—an average of $380.95, down 6.4 percent from $407.02 last year.

NRF officials also told USA Today on Monday that another heavily watched retail event, Cyber Monday, would see declines. About 127 million people are expected to hunt for Cyber Monday deals, versus 131 million in 2013.

But Prosper’s principal analyst, Pam Goodfellow, observed that the industry is still strong, as the research indicates that doorbusters are far from the only factor at play for shoppers this year.

“As competition for customer dollars heats up, consumers will be the ultimate winners in the end,” Goodfellow said in the NRF news release. “Shoppers this year have made it clear that they no longer only value deep discounts on Thanksgiving and Black Friday; they want the entire package from beginning to end—free shipping, early promotions, convenient ways to use their mobile devices, and, of course, hard-to-beat online deals.”

(Darren Hauck/Getty Images)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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