Black Friday Weekend: Big And Ugly

Consumers spent a record $52.4 billion on Black Friday weekend, in a spending free-for-all that resulted in mayhem-inspired headlines as well as jingling cash registers and Web sites.

Data released by the National Retail Federation Sunday afternoon report that retailers’ many great deals, door-buster specials and early opening hours paid off, with 226 million shoppers visiting stores and Web sites over Black Friday weekend, up from 212 million last year.

The survey, which included more than 3,800 adults, reports that the average holiday shopper spent $398.62 this weekend, up from $365.34 last year. Conducted by BIGResearch, the study also found that online spending was significant, with shoppers shelling out an average of $150.53 on the Web, or 37.8% of their total weekend outlay.

Some 28.7 million people shopped online and in stores on Thanksgiving Day, compared with 22.2 million last year. And 86.3 million braved the Black Friday throngs, with reports of violence in California, Arizona, New York and North Carolina. Among the reported incidents are a woman attacking fellow shoppers with pepper spray in a California Walmart, cops turning pepper spray on Walmart shoppers in North Carolina, and a grandfather bloodied and handcuffed by cops in Arizona in a tussle over a video game, also at Walmart.



And despite “Take back Thanksgiving” protests from some employee groups, millions of consumers warmed to those earlier hours, with 24.4% of total Black Friday shoppers at the stores by midnight.

And according to ShopperTrak, a Chicago-based company that tracks mall traffic, Black Friday sales increased 6.6% over the same day last year. That $11.4 billion in retail purchases represents the biggest dollar amount ever spent during the day. Retail foot-traffic rose 5.1%. ShopperTrak says that is the largest year-over-year gain since the 8.3% increase it saw between 2007 and 2006. 

In terms of purchases, the NRF reports that 51.4% bought clothing and accessories, and 39.4% bought electronic items, up from 36.7%. The most popular shopping destinations? Almost half -- 48.7% -- say they visited a department store, and 37.5% went to a discounter. Of those who own tablets, 57.1% said they had or would use their tablet devices to shop for gifts on the weekend following Thanksgiving.

1 comment about "Black Friday Weekend: Big And Ugly ".
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  1. Kris Adler from Luminosity Marketing, November 28, 2011 at 9:22 a.m.

    While overall, it's good to see that consumers are spending more this holiday season, news like this always begs the question: how dependent are retailers on this one weekend? Will they become ever more dependent on discounting to hit their numbers? If so, the trend will not be sustainable in the long run as customers adjust to discounts and simply won't buy many big purchases until big sales roll around.

    Kris Adler
    Luminosity Marketing

    For more retail insights, visit our blog at:

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