Spending fell 2.7 percent to $57.4 billion, according to the National Retail Federation, the sector's main trade group. This is almost $2 billion less than the previous year. The number of people shopping inched upward, but the amount they spent declined. The number of online and in-store shoppers on Friday rose to 92 million compared with 89 million last year.
Analysts note that part of the spending decline on Black Friday is due to the spread of sales starting far before Friday. Discounts began as early as October as retailers anticipated a shortened holiday season with Thanksgiving pushed back a week. Retailers also foreshadowed tightened consumer spending with stagnant wages and economic uncertainty.
"Consumers are stressed," said GameStop CEO Paul Raines to the Wall Street Journal. "They're still under a lot of pressure from things like high unemployment... We see that in our business." The video game retailer announced a rough holiday season despite the sales of the recently released Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
And major retailers such as Walmart, Target, Kohl's and Best Buy also foreshadowed tightened sales.
Combined sales Thursday and Friday inched upward 2.3 percent, according to research firm ShopperTrak. Still, there are costs associated with keeping stores open earlier Friday and on Thursday night, diluting store profits.
Online sales rose almost 20 percent Thursday and 19 percent Friday, according to IBM Digital Analytics.This comes ahead of Cyber Monday, when online sales are expected to be strong.
The retail federation reports that holiday sales make up nearly 40 percent of yearly sales, and the organzation expects overall holiday sales to rise almost 4 percent by the end of the year.
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