Black Friday, America’s modern tradition of shopping the day after Thanksgiving, has become a big day on retailers’ calendars. And while National Federation of Retailers (NRF) figures found that 141 million Americans went shopping over the four-day holiday weekend—up from 139 million in 2012—the $57.4 billion they spent was down 2.9 percent from the previous year’s figures.
“Cold weather, unique promotions and unbeatable prices put millions of Americans in the mood to shop for holiday gifts this weekend,” says NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Retailers’ late night and early morning promotions struck just the right chord for those hoping to kick off the holiday shopping season with friends and family. With only a few weeks until the big day, retailers will continue to aggressively promote their in-store and online offerings, looking to entice today’s very budget-conscious and value-focused shopper.”
Shoppers started earlier this year. Stores that opened on Thanksgiving Day, now unofficially called “Brown Thursday” in retailer parlance, attracted nearly 45 million people, a 27-percent increase from last year’s Turkey Day. Black Friday remained the biggest day at stores. This year, more than 92 million people headed to the store, up from nearly 89 million in 2012. While foot traffic was up, shoppers spent less this year. The NRF reports that on average, they spent $407.02 from Thursday through Sunday, down from $423.55 last year. The decline has been attributed to lower prices and tighter budgets.
Retailers may have made up that lost ground on Cyber Monday, when online stores roll out their discounts. Cyber Monday has become the busiest day of the year for shopping online; the NRF forecasts that 131 million people will turn to digital retailers this year, a two-percent increase from last year. They’re expected to spend more as well. Internet marketing analytics company comScore had forecast retailers would rack up sales of $2 billion in online sales on Monday, up from $1.47 billion in 2012. And judging by early data from Cyber Monday, shoppers did not disappoint. IBM’s figures showed a 21-percent jump in online sales from 2012.