This year's Black Friday shoppers went online more — and spent less

Consumers increasingly turned online during the Black Friday weekend, boosting traffic during the crucial start of the holiday shopping season.

Nearly 109 million people shopped from their computers and mobile devices from Thanksgiving Day through Sunday, while about 99 million hit the sales in brick-and-mortar stores, according to a survey from the trade group National Retail Federation. That’s compared to last year, when shoppers were more evenly split, with 103 million browsing online and 102 million in stores.

“The story of the weekend was online increasing over in-store,” said Pam Goodfellow, principal analyst at Prosper Insights and Analytics, which crunches data for the trade group.

Some shoppers, of course, did both. That put the total number of shoppers during the four-day weekend at more than 154 million — up from 151 million in 2015, the survey said.

Shoppers spent an average of $289.19, down from $299.60 last year, the survey said. Matthew Shay, chief executive of the trade group, said some promotions were steeper than in 2015. This year, 36% of shoppers reported that all of their purchases were sale items; last year, 11% of consumers said so.

The holiday season is vital to retailers, which can make up to 40% of their annual sales during that time. The National Retail Federation forecasts that sales during November and December will climb 3.6% to $655.8 billion, up slightly from the same period in 2015.

Although Black Friday has evolved, it continues to be the biggest day of the year in terms of shopper traffic, according to a separate report from consumer analytics firm ShopperTrak. In-store visits dropped 1% over the two days of Thanksgiving and Black Friday, but that decline came from slower traffic on Turkey Day.

“We found that Thanksgiving Day store openings were increasingly pulling shopper visits from Black Friday over the past few years,” said Brian Field, senior director of advisory services for ShopperTrak. “This year, we saw a reversal of that trend, which can be attributed to several factors including fewer store openings on Thanksgiving Day, as well as online shopping.”

Field said that eight of the 10 biggest shopping days of the year have yet to come, including Super Saturday on Dec. 17.

Retailers should get a boost from Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, Field said. The Friday before Christmas and the day after, which is a Monday, should also be top shopping days as well.

Follow Shan on Twitter @ByShanLi

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