CHICAGO, Nov. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumer behavior changed this year, as more Americans began or ended Thanksgiving Day by embracing early "Black Friday" deals and visiting stores on Thursday.
ShopperTrak, the world's largest counter of retail foot traffic, estimates that, when compared to "Black Weekend" last year, retail foot traffic rose 8.2 percent, to more than 594 million store visits. Retail sales increased 2.7 percent, with shoppers spending about $22 billion across the weekend's four days. Thursday's "door-buster" deals drove sales and traffic earlier in the weekend.
"Shoppers follow value. And this year, for the first time, retailers presented significant value for shopping on Thanksgiving Day," said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder. "So even though retail sales were slightly down on Black Friday, traffic and sales for the weekend as a whole increased over 2011."
An Expanding "Black Weekend"
Last year, "Black Weekend" (Thursday through Sunday) accounted for 8.6 percent of sales during the entire holiday season of November and December. According to Martin, the importance of a single shopping day such as "Black Friday" may be changing as retailers promote the holiday season earlier and expand promotions across more days.
"The Monday through Wednesday before Thanksgiving had foot traffic increases as well," said Martin. "This indicates that some retailers are turning 'Black Friday' into a week-long event, and more consumers are visiting stores earlier in the week."
During "Black Weekend" 2011, shoppers spent $21.4 billion, compared to this year's $22 billion. Though Friday's sales dipped a bit, both Saturday and Sunday saw foot traffic and sales increases when compared to last year.
Martin sees this four-day weekend as a strong beginning to the 32 days of shopping between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
"To take advantage of the increased retail foot traffic during the holidays – or at any time of year – retailers must understand their shopper conversion rates," said Martin. "Tracking the number of browsers they turn into buyers will help them respond to changing shopper behavior and increase their profitability."
ShopperTrak is a retail technology company that anonymously counts people, analyzes data and identifies opportunities to increase revenue for retailers, mall developers and entertainment venues. Founded in 1995, ShopperTrak counts billions of shoppers annually in more than 50,000 locations across 74 countries. The Chicago-based company has more than 200 employees with offices in High Wycombe, England; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and Shenzhen, China. Find out more at http://www.shoppertrak.com.