Thanksgiving sales take a bite out
of Black Friday for nation's retailers
Tuesday, December 03, 2013 4:00 PM
BATTLE MOUNTAIN - There's nothing like a jab in the ribs scrambling to get that last marked-down flat screen TV on Black Friday to get you in the holiday mood.
At least someone wasn't trampled to death this year during the shopping madness, based on a cursory perusal of headlines over the weekend. Last year, a store security agent somewhere back east was fatally run over by the door-crashing herd in the worst case of bad luck to befall anyone I can imagine.
There is a growing list of catchy names for all this seasonal consumerism - Gray Thursday, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, a day when shoppers, who evidently didn't run up enough on their charge card over the weekend, crash the servers of online retailers.
According to results posted Sunday on the National Retail Federation website, plenty of people were out shopping nationwide over the Thanksgiving weekend, but it was a mixed bag of economic results.
The numbers indicate that the retailing push on Thanksgiving day took a bite out of Black Friday sales. Really, doesn't Thanksgiving shopping just spread consumer spending out over a couple of days without increasing it? I think that's the consensus at this point.
My question is this: Who would venture out on Black Friday after battling the crowds on Thanksgiving evening? You'd have to be one hardcore shopper, or really bored.
As more and more retailers offer specials earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving day, it will simply replace Black Friday. Shoppers will be heading to the malls still chomping on turkey legs with giblet gravy dripping off their chins.
According to the NRF, shoppers spent an average of $407.02 per person over the Thanksgiving weekend, which is down from $423.55 last year. There's still some trepidation out there among middle-class consumers about spending big, a slight hangover from the Great Recession.
A survey by the NRF showed traffic on Thanksgiving day grew 27 percent as 45 million shoppers ventured out on turkey day. The Gray Thursday-Black Friday weekend shopping combo is especially popular with young people, the 18-34 year olds.
The NRF said, based on some surveying, that 76.2 percent of that demographic shopped or planned to shop over the holiday weekend. They simply don't want to sit around and chat with the visiting relatives.
Here's a tidbit from the weekend holiday shopping blitz that's good for newspapers. Almost half of holiday shoppers (49.2 percent) over the weekend sought out information about sales via advertising circulars. Friday's Reno Gazette-Journal was at least a seven-pound paper with all the inserts.
Shop local is a refrain we hear over and over, especially this time of year, but if you want to keep independent retailing alive around town, patronizing the small stores is the only way that's going to happen. The alternative is a few big box stores and more empty storefronts downtown.
Small businesses, for their part, need to offer the best products backed up by the best customer service. There's no way they'll beat the big retailers on price.
I have yet to be inspired to do any serious Christmas shopping. It's still way too early. The mood has to be right - the level of desperation has to escalate considerably before I'll get out among the masses and buy gifts.
There's one less shopping weekend this year before Christmas. I should be motivated by Dec. 23.
Steve Lyon is editor of the Bugle. Contact him at email@example.com.