Lines outside retailers on Thanksgiving night and full malls on Black Friday seem to indicate that shoppers are willing to spend money.
Thanksgiving weekend gives a snapshot of how consumers are feeling going into the holiday season.
This year, retailers such as Walmart started offering sales early to its customers.
“We’re going to have a better than expected season, and with that it means accommodating shoppers,” said Lori Tackitt, sales manager of the Elkin Walmart.
On Thursday night, shoppers filled America’s largest retail outlet trying to get a jumpstart on shopping.
Few had complaints about needing to wait in long lines.
Nevertheless, for retailers Black Friday gives insight to the consumer appetite coming into the holiday season.
“We’re doing good so far,” said Rodney Clark, manager of Big Lots. The store was steadily busy on Friday, and Clark was doubling up on register duty.
According to a survey done for the National Retail Federation, some 152 million people said they planned to shop on Black Friday weekend (Friday to Sunday). Last year, 138 million were expected, but the actual number who hit the malls was 212 million – a record number of bargain hunters.
The NRF does a survey of consumer spending on Black Friday, but it doesn’t expect to have results until Sunday. However, even before the results were in, the group was claiming it was a good start. “Early morning openings appear to have been well worth it for both retailers and holiday shoppers, with many Americans believing that deals were too good to pass up regardless of who they were shopping for – themselves or others,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president, in a statement.
However, it’s important to put sales in perspective. Historically, sales over the weekend represent only about 10 percent of holiday sales with the final two weeks of December being critical.
If the economy is improving, it hasn’t shown up yet in consumer sentiment numbers, which are still at recessionary levels.
This year, electronics – especially flat-screen TVs – have dropped in price compared with last year.
When asked to pick Walmart’s hottest selling item of interest, Tackitt said,”Clearly the IPAD Two.”
Home improvement purchases are expected to do well this season, too. Outside the Lowe’s, available parking spaces were scarce.