NRF: Black Friday Traffic Up, Spending Down

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NRF: Black Friday Traffic Up, Spending Down

WASHINGTON -- The 2009 holiday shopping season began over the weekend with a larger number of shoppers visiting retailers and their Web sites compared to last year, but lower spending, according to the National Retail Federation's (NRF) Black Friday shopping survey, conducted by BIGresearch.

The survey, which polled 4,985 consumers between Nov. 26-28, 2009, found 195 million shoppers visited stores and Web sites over Black Friday weekend, up from 172 million last year. Average spending over the weekend dropped to $343.31 per person from $372.57 a year ago, according to the NRF. Total spending reached an estimated $41.2 billion, the association stated.

"Shoppers proved this weekend that they were willing to open their wallets for a bargain, heading out to take advantage of great deals on less expensive items such as toys, small appliances and winter clothes," Tracy Mullin, NRF president and CEO, said in a statement. "While retailers are encouraged by the number of Americans who shopped over Black Friday weekend, they know they have their work cut out for them to keep people coming back through Christmas. Shoppers can continue to expect retailers to focus on low prices and bargains through the end of December."

By retail channel, department stores were shoppers' destination of choice, with nearly half (49.4 percent) of holiday shoppers visiting at least one, a 12.9 percent increase from last year, NRF stated. Meanwhile, 43.2 percent of holiday shoppers headed to discount stores and another 7.8 percent visited outlet stores, according to the association. Electronics stores were shopped by 29 percent of Americans, while clothing stores were visited by 22.9 percent and grocery stores by 19.6 percent.

In addition, 28.5 percent of Americans shopped online over the weekend.

"In an economy like this one, every retailer wants to be a discounter," added Mullin. "Department stores have done an admirable job touting both low prices and good quality, which are important requirements for holiday shoppers on a budget."

Gifts purchased included toys, purchased by nearly one-third (32.2 percent) of shoppers; sporting goods (12.6 percent); personal care or beauty items (22.4 percent); and gift cards (21.2 percent). The most popular purchases were clothing (50.9 percent) and books (40.3 percent), the NRF stated.

"During a more robust economy, people may be inclined to hit the "snooze" button on Black Friday, but high unemployment and a focus on price caused shoppers to visit stores early in anticipation of the best deals," said Phil Rist, executive vice president of Strategic Initiatives for BIGresearch.

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