Black Friday Weekend sales are promising, says NRF

With total spending on the nation’s busiest shopping day of the year up more than 9 percent annually at $45.0 billion, there may be cause for optimism, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

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With total spending on the nation’s busiest shopping day of the year up more than 9 percent annually at $45.0 billion, there may be cause for optimism, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

This was reflected in the fact that 8 percent more shoppers—212 million—visited stores over Black Friday Weekend, and that the average shopper spent $365.34 compared to $343.31 a year ago for about a six percent gain. And should these trends continue into the remainder of the holiday season and beyond, it could mean good news is ahead in the form of steadier demand for freight transportation carriers and 3PLs.

“In terms of traffic numbers, Black Friday Weekend was a complete success,” said Scott Krugman, NRF, Vice President, Public Relations, on a conference call. “It looks like retailer’s promotions really worked in enticing consumers and getting them out to the store.

Some of the reasons for increased sales numbers, according to Krugman, included a willingness by consumers to shop on Thanksgiving Day, coupled with the fact that more consumers began their Black Friday Weekend shopping at Midnight on the Friday after Thanksgiving, rather than waiting to go shopping in the morning. And the data backs this up, with 9.5 percent of consumers beginning Black Friday shopping at that time in 2010 compared to 3.3 percent a year ago.

The strong performance of Black Friday Weekend matches recently released retail sales numbers from the Department of Commerce, which stated that October showed total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) increased 1.2 percent seasonally adjusted over September and 5.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

Another good sign is that truck tonnage is slowly inching in the right direction, with September and October volumes up on a seasonally-adjusted and non-seasonally adjusted basis, which could mean demand is starting to stabilize in a positive way.

This was also apparent at the recently-concluded TransComp expo in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, with carriers and freight brokers telling LM they are seeing increased signs of demand in recent weeks.

“It may be a seasonal effect, but it is clear things are picking up on a sequential basis lately, but there is still a long way to go to really get back to where things were before the downturn,” a truckload carrier told LM at the event.

With some signs of optimism making their presence felt, there is clearly still a long way to go before meaningful economic improvement is confirmed.

In any event, NRF officials are quick to point out that the economy and consumer spending are showing “marked improvement” even though consumers are expected to proceed with caution.

This cautionary note was also sounded by Chris G. Christopher, Jr. Senior Principal Economist, U.S. Macroeconomics with IHS Global Insight.

“Or worst case scenario is a ‘double-dip,’” he said. “And we don’t see that happening. But even our best case scenario hardly makes consumers want to break out the champagne. It will be a very soft recovery at best.”

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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