Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Sorting through Black Friday data

December 2, 2008

Black Friday has come and gone but what on earth happened at the cash registers over the Thanksgiving weekend? The data is trickling in, and so are the early critiques. (See our previous blogs: Treat Black Friday reports cautiously and Black Friday data spurs more questions than answers)

Here is a break down of the latest reports and what data is still to come:

National Retail Federation:

According its 2008 Black Friday Weekend survey, conducted by BIGresearch and published on Sunday, the NRF said more than 172 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend (which includes Thursday, Friday, Saturday and projections for Sunday), up from 147 million shoppers last year. 

Shoppers spent an average of $372.57 this weekend, up 7.2 percent over last year’s $347.55. Total spending reached an estimated $41.0 billion, up from $34.6 billion a year ago.

The results came from a survey that polled 3,370 consumers from Nov. 27-29. The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.7 percent.


ShopperTrak RCT’s National Retail Sales Estimate found sales on Black Friday and Saturday rose 1.9 percent from 2007 – with each day posting total sales of $10.6 billion and $6.0 billion, respectively.

It said Saturday sales fell 0.8 percent compared with last year as most Black Friday promotions ended.  Sales on Saturday last year rose 5.4 percent over 2006, with $6.1 billion spent that day.   

“At this point, we anticipate sales levels will continue to slow this week as consumers will remain home, looking for additional holiday sales toward the end of the shortened 2008 season,” said Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak, in a statement on Monday.

ShopperTrak’s results are derived from statistics from the Commerce Department on sales of items like apparel, furniture, and electronics, combined with data it tracks on shopper traffic in stores.


On Monday, SpendingPulse, a data service provided by MasterCard Advisorssaid sales at U.S. specialty apparel retailers rose 1.6 percent on Friday and Saturday from a year earlier, but sales at electronics specialty retailers fell 14.3 percent. Luxury retailers saw a 2.4 percent increase,  while e-commerce sales rose 11.8 percent, it said. 

“We definitely think there was some pent-up demand that came to the front lines on Black Friday,” said SpendingPulse’s Michael McNamara. “Major discounting obviously attracted that.” 

SpendingPulse is a macroeconomic indicator that estimates U.S. retail sales across all payment forms, including cash and checks.

Data to come:

Dec. 3: SpendingPulse will release its full report on November monthly sales.

Dec. 3: ShopperTrak will release its complete report for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, in addition to sales and traffic data for the week ending Nov. 29.

Dec. 4: Major retail chains, like Wal-Mart, Gap and Kohl’s, will release their November monthly sales figures and are expected to comment on the Black Friday weekend.



There’s still a lot of people working, a lot of people with cash, a lot of people with credit. Those people are always prepared to buy – if the price is right. Thanks to sites like which utilizes both ads scans and relevant links and hot deals available now, there will be plenty of action and sales on Black Friday. The only people who need to slow down their spending are the elected people in Washington DC :)


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