Thanksgiving Weekend Sales Disappoint

Despite sunny projections, the holiday shopping season got off to a choppy start, according to a trade group survey.

Despite sunny projections, the holiday shopping season got off to a choppy start, according to a trade group survey.

A survey by the National Retail Federation 55.1% of holiday shoppers went to a store or shopped online during the Thanksgiving weekend. That’s down from 58.7% last year. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 1.5%.

Overall, 133.7 million shoppers made 233.3 million shopping trips this year. Those figures are down from 141.1 million shoppers and 248.6 million trips last year.

Matthew Shay, president and CEO of NRF, said the numbers are part of a shifting retail landscape.

“A strengthening economy that changes consumers’ reliance on deep discounts, a highly competitive environment, early promotions, and the ability to shop 24/7 online all contributed to the shift witnessed this weekend,” said Shay, in a press release.

Those who shopped over the weekend were expected to spend an average of $380.95 per person, down 6.4% from the $407.02 spent last year.

Three-quarters of shoppers (77.2%) said they also bought items for themselves or their family, similar to last year’s finding of 76.4%.

This year many stores were criticized for opening their doors on Thanksgiving evening, causing millions of shoppers—and millions of workers—to leave their Thanksgiving celebrations early and head to stores and shopping malls.

However, despite the early start, Black Friday remained the top shopping day of the weekend. The NRF survey found 86.9 million shoppers shopped in-store or online on Black Friday. About 32.2 million shopped on Thanksgiving Day, roughly the same amount as last year.

Of those who shopped Saturday, three-quarters said they planned to shop specifically at small businesses in recognition of Small Business Saturday.

Clothing, toys, and electronics were the most popular items on sale. More than half of respondents—54.5%—said they purchased apparel over the holiday weekend. One-third purchased electronics (34.2%) and toys (32.6%).

The survey was conducted Friday and Saturday by Prosper Insight & Analytics. Prosper polled 4,631 consumers.