December 02, 2013
Ronald Friedman, Co-Leader, Retail/Consumer Products Industry Group, Quoted in NPR Article "Sluggish Start To Holiday Sales May Mean More Price Cuts"
By Emily Siner
Despite retailers offering Thanksgiving hours and more online sales, Americans still nervous about the economy spent less this long weekend than they did last year, according to preliminary estimates.
But analysts say retailers will be working harder to boost sales in coming weeks by offering even deeper discounts.
The National Retail Federation reported that spending from Thursday to Sunday fell slightly from last year's peak, when consumers spent a record $59.1 billion. On average, shoppers spent 3.9 percent less than last year — the first dip in spending since 2009.
Stores opening on Thursday didn't seem to diminish the percentage of Americans who shopped on Black Friday — more than 1 in 5 did so — but the percentage of shoppers on Saturday and Sunday were basically cut in half from a year earlier, says Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst for NPD Group.
The champion of the weekend may have been the Web: Online shopping on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday grew 19 percent from last year, according to IBM. This may shine favorably on Cyber Monday, when retailers typically offer more promotions online.
The season's success depends partly on the factors outside the retail market, analysts say — everything from gas prices and employment rates to health care costs and security concerns at malls. If the factors are unstable, would-be shoppers are more likely to stay home and save money, says Ron Friedman, retail practice leader at consulting firm Marcum LLP.
"All these factors come into play to make people nervous about buying," Friedman says.
As a result, he says, "if I'm a retailer, I just want to get people in my store."
And that's a good thing for consumers: more sales through December, with deeper discounts than in previous years both in-store and online.