Black Friday Weekend Sales Break Records

Black Friday shopping broke records, according to the National Retail Federation. During a Dec. 3 conference call, the Washington, D.C., retail trade group said that 189.6 million U.S. consumers shopped during the Black Friday Weekend. It reflected a 14 percent increase of consumers shopping, compared with the 2018 Black Friday weekend. During that time period, 165.8 million Americans shopped, according to Matthew Shay, the NRF’s president and chief executive officer.

“There was strong momentum as we went into the past five days. Retailers reached into that momentum and offered great deals,” Shay said. “Consumers responded by getting into holiday spirit earlier than normal.”

The NRF’s research found that 52 percent of consumers it surveyed started their gift purchasing during the 2019 Black Friday Weekend compared with 44 percent who shopped during the 2018 Black Friday weekend. While monitoring these trends, the NRF conducted its Black Friday research with Prosper Insights & Analytics.

The increase in people shopping during Black Friday was rooted in a good economy, Shay said. Unemployment is low, 3.6 percent in the U.S. in November, and consumer confidence is relatively high.

“Consumers are in a good place,” Shay said. “The consumers are happy and they are in a mood to spend.”

Fashion and apparel categories, and department stores were two of the winners during Black Friday weekend. Cold, wet weather across much of America sparked a demand for winter clothing. The survey of Black Friday shoppers also found that 50 percent of them visited department stores during the weekend.

During the call, Shay forecast that retailers won’t experience a lull between the frenetic shopping periods of Black Friday weekend and the weekend before Christmas. The lull has marked past holiday seasons.

“This year, the economy is in a better place. I think that this moment, we’re going to continue the momentum of the season,” he said. “There will be a sprint to the finish. There will be a lot of robust activity.”