Highlights
Strong Start of Holiday Season in Stores and Online
November 29, 2011

A record 226 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend, up from 212 million last year, according to the National Retail Federation. The average holiday shopper spent $398.62 this weekend, up from $365.34 last year. Total spending reached an estimated $52.4 billion. Shoppers also checked out retailers’ deals online, spending an average of $150.53 on the web—37.8 percent of their total weekend spending.

This is all good news. What’s even better is that jewelry sales appear to be as strong as overall sales. According to the NRF survey, nearly 22 percent of shoppers purchased jewelry over the four-day shopping weekend, not bad considering the categories of products available for purchase this year. The two trade publications in the U.S. (JCK and National Jeweler) who spoke to independent jewelers around the country also reported generally strong results.

The NRF survey, conducted by BigResearch, found 28.7 million people shopped online and at stores on Thanksgiving Day—up from 22.2 million last year. More people than ever before also shopped online and in stores on Black Friday, as 86.3 million shoppers braved the crowds that day alone.

The survey’s data was for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and projected spending for Sunday. The survey—which estimates number of shoppers, not number of people—was conducted Nov. 24-26 and polled 3,826 consumers.

Nearly one-quarter of Black Friday shoppers were at stores by midnight, either waiting for stores to open or visiting retailers who opened on Thanksgiving evening, NRF said. By comparison, the number of people who were at the stores at midnight was 9.5 percent in 2010 and 3.3 percent in 2009.

Lured by promotions on everything from winter apparel to tablet devices, shoppers stocked up on discretionary gifts this year, NRF said. More than half bought clothing and clothing accessories, and gift buyers were also drawn to promotions on electronics and computer-related accessories over the weekend. Nearly 40 percent bought electronic items, up from 36.7 percent last year. Additionally, shoppers stocked up on home décor (21.3%), gift cards (23.1%), toys (32.6%), and jewelry (21.8%).

The most popular shopping destinations once again were department stores (48.7%) and discounters (37.5%). In addition, consumers also shopped at clothing stores (24.6%), drug stores (14%) and grocery stores (23.8%), electronics stores (30.8%) and craft or fabric stores (7. 9%.) As retailers leverage their websites to offer deals for online holiday shoppers, more people logged onto retailers’ websites over the weekend (35.2% vs. 33.6% last year).

The use of Internet and mobile devices to buy products exploded this year. Cyber Monday reached $1.25 billion in online spending in the U.S., up 22 percent year-over-year, representing the heaviest online spending day in history and the second day on record to surpass the billion-dollar threshold, according to comScore, a firm that specializes in measuring digital data.

“Cyber Monday was yet another historic day for e-commerce,” said Gian Fulgoni, comScore chairman. “While last year saw Cyber Monday rank as the heaviest online spending day of the year for the first time ever, it will be interesting to watch the next couple of weeks to see if any future individual days in 2011 manage to leapfrog this year’s highest day-to-date.”

Cyber Monday’s sales growth was driven by an increase in both the number of buyers (up 11 percent) and the average spending per buyer (up 9 percent), the Reston, Va.-based firm said. Overall, 10 million people bought online on Cyber Monday, representing the first time on record that threshold has been reached in a single day. The average online buyer conducted 1.9 online transactions on Cyber Monday for a total of nearly $125 in spending.

Half of dollars spent online at U.S. Web sites originated from work computers, up slightly from last year, comScore reported. Buying from home comprised the majority of the remaining share (43.2 percent) while buying at U.S. Web sites from international locations accounted for 6.6 percent of sales.

Cyber Monday is a marketing term for the Monday immediately following Black Friday. Shop.org, an association of multi-channel retailers, first coined the term in 2005 after retailers discovered that online sales increased on that particular day. In 2006, Shop.org launched the CyberMonday.com portal, a one-stop shop for Cyber Monday deals. Cyber Monday is now one of the biggest online shopping days of the year.

A total of $15 billion has been spent online in the U.S. for the first 28 days of the holiday season (November 1 – 28), a 15-percent increase versus the corresponding days last year, comScore reports.

Black Friday (November 25) alone saw $816 million in online sales, making it the second heaviest online spending day to date in 2011 and representing a 26-percent increase versus Black Friday 2010, according to comScore. Thanksgiving Day (November 24), while traditionally a lighter day for online holiday spending, achieved a strong 18-percent increase to $479 million.

There are still question in regards to the strength of the holiday shopping season as it pertains to the jewelry industry. Among them:

* Will the opening weekend momentum continue for the rest of the holiday season?

* Have margins been sacrificed for more sales and to what extent?

* Does the strength of sales pertain to all segments of the industry?

* Has online and mobile sales been a positive of a negative for jewelry retailers?

As these questions and others are answered in January, so far the preliminary findings look good.


Caption: Black Friday 2011 shoppers at Macy’s in New York.
Photographer: Stephen Chernin
Copyright/Source: Getty Images

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