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Thanksgiving Weekend Retail Sales Down

Written by Ken Gaebler
Published: 12/3/2013

National Retail Federation reports drop in Thanksgiving weekend retail sales as online sales skyrocket.

For retailers and consumers, the weekend after Thanksgiving is one of the biggest shopping events of the year. Eager to check names off their holiday shopping lists, shoppers pour into malls and brick-and-mortar stores, filling their carts with merchandise across a wide range of retail categories.

Black Friday Weekend Sales Results

But this year's holiday shopping season may be off to a sluggish start. Citing data released by the National Retail Federation (NRF), Reuters recently reported that consumers spent less over Thanksgiving weekend than they did during the same time last year, including Black Friday.

According to NRF data, the average U.S. shopper spent $407.02 over Thanksgiving weekend, or 3.9 percent less than the average consumer spent last year. Industry insiders attribute much of the drop to deep retail discounts--a practice that the NRF said will persist throughout this year's holiday shopping season.

"Retailers will continue to aggressively promote their in-store and online offerings, looking to entice today's very budget-conscious and value-focused shopper," said Matthew Shay, CEO at the National Retail Federation.

This year, prices appear to be the name of the game for larger retailers as well as small retailers competing with big box stores. So why are retailers already offering discounts on holiday retail merchandise? Some industry experts believe it's because retailers are dealing with a short holiday shopping season. In 2013, consumers have six fewer shopping days than in 2012, forcing retailers to offer reduced pricing earlier in the season.

E-commerce may also be a factor in brick-and-mortar discounts and less-than-stellar Thanksgiving weekend sales. The NRF reported that online sales increased (year-over-year) by more than 17 percent on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, significantly outperforming traditional retailers.

Although online shoppers visited fewer e-commerce stores this year, they did more research and spent more money at the stores they visited--a sign that consumers are becoming more savvy about their options and more willing to make their holiday purchases online.

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