Did You Get A Deal? Many Shoppers Held Off On Spending For Black Friday/Cyber Monday

December 2, 2014  |  

Tallies show that Black Friday and Cyber Monday weren’t quite as profitable as retailers would’ve liked and some are wondering why more people weren’t out for the big shopping holiday.

The National Retail Federation says spending through the long Thanksgiving weekend, which includes shopping on both Turkey Day and Black Friday, was down 11.3 percent this year with spending expected to drop from $57.4 billion last year to $50.9 billion this year. The number of people out shopping also dropped by 5.2 percent from 141.1 billion to 133.7 million individuals.

Cyber Monday sales were actually up 8.7 percent as of 2pm yesterday. However when compared with last year, which grew 21 percent, it looks paltry. The average amount spent per transaction was also down 10 percent to $159.55.

There are lots of factors being attributed to the declines. First, you had a lot of retailers talking up the fact that their discounts were available across a few days, sometimes before Thanksgiving. So spending was spread across a greater number of days. That line of thinking, according to experts, also has many people waiting to do their shopping until later in the season, closer to Christmas when discounts might be even bigger.

“While [consumers] are more optimistic about the economy and have more to spend, I still think they’re very cautious and looking for deals,” said National Retail Federation president and CEO Matthew Shay. With so many discounts and so many options on how to purchase — mobile devices, in-store, online — some people are no doubt on the hunt. And the fact is that despite optimism, many are still watching their pennies given the fact that wages aren’t growing at a quick clip and savings accounts have been depleted by the recession.

But there were also calls for a Black Friday boycott. Not new to 2014 (each year, there are those who oppose the commercialization of the holidays and encourage people to take action with their wallet), this year’s boycott as well as the #ShutItDown protests were also in response to the grand jury decision in Ferguson.

The Root spoke with one protester who felt that the “die-ins” and other rallies across the country did make a difference. Blacks spend more than a trillion dollars, so enough hold outs would definitely make a difference. Moreover, protests actually did temporarily shut down malls and roads over the weekend. Still, it would be difficult to quantify the impact withholding sales would have.

The NRF had predicted a 4.3 percent growth in spending this year for November and December, which, according to Bloomberg, would be the biggest increase since 2011. The slow weekend might make that difficult. And deep price cuts could make that growth even more elusive. Though that might be what it takes to get customers to spend.

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