Decline in Thanksgiving shopping blamed on early start and uncertain economy

The National Retail Federation (NRF) has released figures indicating that fewer people went shopping over the Thanksgiving weekend, due to an uncertain economy and an increase in online shopping.
The four-day holiday weekend saw 133.7 million people shopping online and at stores, a decline of 5.2% compared to last year.

According to a survey done by Prosper Insights & Analytics, of 4631 people, the total amount spent over the weekend is predicted to decline by 11%, from $54.7bn last year, to $50.9bn.  Shoppers are expected to spend an average of $380.95 over the four-day period, which is a decline of 6.4% from $407.02 for last year.  This is the second consecutive year that spending has declined.

The reasons for this could be attributed to Walmart, Macy’s, Target and other retailers promoting huge holiday discounts during October, at Halloween. Stores were also opened earlier on Thanksgiving, which took away some of the Black Friday potential sales and those over the weekend.

The preliminary figures raise concerns that shoppers are continuing to be frugal, in spite of declining gas prices and an improvement in employment figures.

The NRF chief executive, Matt Shay, said although the economic effect is puzzling, it could be due to people not feeling the need to fight their way through crowds to get a discount on a toaster or a TV.  He said the ones who feel that the recession is still around may not have the cash to splurge and will stretch their dollars over the Christmas period.

He said consumers are still looking for good deals and they are not spending if they do not find a deal that suits them.  He added that consumers should expect more discounts throughout the season.

Since the holiday shopping season accounts for around 20% of the annual retail industry sales, they are hoping that consistent discounts will get shoppers back into their stores.

Although the economy has improved, stagnant wages and high food prices are still affecting consumers.  Consumers are fully aware of when a deal is good and when not as they have smartphones with price-comparison apps.

There is still a prediction that holiday sales will reach $616.9bn, an increase of 4.1%, which would be the biggest increase since the 4.8% during 2011.

The early start to sales resulted in declines on Black Friday for the second year in a row.  Around $9.1bn was spent on Black Friday, which is a 7% decline compared to the previous year.

Thanksgiving sales increased by 24% to reach $3.2bn, which is an increase on $2.5bn made last year.  Overall sales for the two days is expected to decline .5% to reach $12.29bn, excluding online sales.

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