More shoppers, but spending drops: survey
4-day weekend sales seen at $57.4 billion, down 2.8% from year agoStories You Might Like
By William L. Watts, MarketWatch
Reuters Enlarge Image
Santa joins shoppers checking out Black Friday bargains at the Macy’s in Glendale, Calif.
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — The number of shoppers hitting stores over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend rose but consumers were more reluctant to open their wallets as the holiday season began, with total spending down nearly 3% from a year ago, according to a survey released Sunday by a retail trade group.
The survey conducted by the National Retail Federation found that 141 million unique shoppers made purchases or will shop by the end of the weekend, up from 139 million in the same period last year. Including those who shopped multiple times, the survey found more than 248 million shopped in person or online, up from 247 million a year ago.
Shoppers line up to pay for discounted TVs at a Target store in Chicago.
But on average, shoppers were expected to spend $407.02 from Thursday through Sunday, down from $423.55 a year ago, the survey found. Total spending is forecast to reach $57.4 billion, down from $59.1 billion in the same period last year.
The results offer a sobering counterpoint to upbeat data showing shoppers were more eager to go online. Online sales on Thanksgiving topped $1 billion for the first time, according to Adobe. Target Corp. /quotes/zigman/253872/delayed/quotes/nls/tgt TGT -0.29% and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. /quotes/zigman/245476/delayed/quotes/nls/wmt WMT -0.14% reported strong Black Friday sales.
National Retail Federation officials said economic worries likely dented consumer interest, but also emphasized that retailers have been aggressively promoting sales in the weeks ahead of the Thanksgiving weekend, which has traditionally been viewed as the kickoff to the holiday shopping season.
National Retail Federation officials noted that a previous survey showed shoppers planned to spend around 1.9% less this year than in 2012, while overall sales are forecast to rise by around 3.9%, due in part to population growth.
Click to Play Four killed in New York train derailmentA Metro-North train derailed in the Bronx early Sunday morning, killing four people and injuring more than 60. Photo: AP
”Shoppers are watching what they spend, and I think the four-day results reflect that,” said Pam Goodfellow, consumer insights director at Prosper Insights and Analytics, the firm that conducted the survey on behalf of the retail group.
The results are based on a survey of 4,464 consumers conducted Friday and Saturday. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.5%.
The survey found that online activity made up a bigger proportion of spending this year, with the average shopper spending $177.67 online over the weekend. That’s equal to 43.7% of total weekend spending, up from 40.7% last year. More than a quarter of shoppers bought online on Thanksgiving Day, while 47.1% shopped online on Black Friday. Meanwhile, 35.7% shopped online on Saturday and 24.5% planned to shop online on Sunday, the survey found.
/quotes/zigman/253872/delayed/quotes/nls/tgt add Add to portfolio TGT Target Corp. US : U.S.: NYSE $ 62.55 -0.18 -0.29% Volume: 136,507Dec. 2, 2013P/E Ratio16.68Dividend Yield2.74%Market Cap$40.41 billionRev. per Employee$204,452loading... /quotes/zigman/245476/delayed/quotes/nls/wmt add Add to portfolio WMT Wal-Mart Stores Inc. US : U.S.: NYSE $ 81.00 -0.11 -0.14% Volume: 121,752Dec. 2, 2013P/E Ratio15.54Dividend Yield2.32%Market Cap$262.80 billionRev. per Employee$215,790loading...
William L. Watts is MarketWatch's senior markets writer, based in New York. Follow him on Twitter @wlwatts.