Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Holiday Season Kicks Off With Record Breaking Sales

Fighting the tryptophan from Thanksgiving turkey, an estimated 226 million Americans headed out to line sidewalks, parking lots, and stores entrances (or visited websites) in anticipation of a Black Friday deal. According to the National Retail Federation, that represented a 7% increase from the 212 million Black Friday shoppers last year.

Total spending on Black Friday reached an estimated $52.4 billion. According to the NRF, one quarter of Black Friday shoppers were at the stores by midnight Thursday, either waiting for the store to open or visiting those stores that opened at midnight.

Cyber Monday deals, meanwhile, also drew in a record number of online shoppers, up 33% from the Monday after Thanksgiving last year. According to IBM reports Consumers spent an average of 2.6% more this year than last on Cyber Monday. As expected a record number—10.8%--of shoppers used their smartphones or apps to shop, up 176% from last year.

"Consumers flocked online, with shopping momentum hitting its highest peak at 11:05am PST/2:05pm EST," IBM said in a statement. This showcases Americans growing comfort for online shopping. The top deals on Cyber Monday included a Samsung laptop from Amazon, 32” TV from Walmart, and Giada programmable coffee maker from Target. Even high-end stores like Saks Fifth Avenue followed suit offering 40% off its online inventory. IBM found that Cyber Monday brought in 29.3% more online sales than Black Friday did (although more shoppers were in the physical stores rather than online on Black Friday).

Most people who did their purchasing online did so using an Apple device. And Apple was the 5th most visited online retailer this Black Friday behind Amazon, Wal-mart, Best Buy, and Target. And to no surprise, considering Apple broke all records this Black Friday. Their goal was four times more than normal and, according to Apple 9to5Mac’s source, they beat that forecast by 7 p.m.

While some analysts claim that this is the season of practical living, Karen Katz, Neiman Marcus president and Chief Executive Officer says their target consumers—affluent buyers—are confident and, therefore, spending this season. She notes how attuned upscale consumers are to the stock market and the broader economy, but that Neiman’s is “well positioned with luxury fashion and the latest trends.” Although business has been “good”, they declined to comment on the Christmas forecast or beyond. According to Bloomburg however, luxury goods are making a comeback. And the International Council of Shopping Center reports that sales at luxury stores open at least a year will climb 7.5 percent in November and December, faster than the 6.7 percent increase a year earlier.

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