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Retail sales lag record BF traffic

Retailers were effective at getting a record number of Americans to visit stores and Web sites over the weekend, but persuading them to spend money was a different story, according to data released by the National Retail Federation Sunday afternoon.

The retail industry trade group said Thanksgiving weekend retail sales declined from the prior year due to restrained spending by the record number of 141 million Americans who visited stores and Web sites over the four day period. NRF said average spending per person declined to $407 from $423 last year and total spending was $57.4 billion compared to $59.1 billion last year. The reduced spending occurred despite an increased number of retailers opening on Thanksgiving Day and earlier opening hours which drove the increased in store traffic and Web site traffic. A total of 141 million unique shoppers visited stores and Web sites Thanksgiving weekend compared to 139 million last year and there were a total of 248 million shopping occasions this year versus 247 million last year. The traffic and spending numbers are based on results of a survey conduct for NRF by Prosper Insights & Analytics that was conducted November 29-30 and involved 4,464 consumers.

Nearly 45 million shoppers visited stores on Thanksgiving, up 27% from last year, and 92 million visited stores on Black Friday, up 3.3% from last year. Shopping activity was also strong on the Internet where 59 million of those surveyed indicated they shopped at some point over the weekend. Of those who shopped online, the average spending totaled $177, or 43.7% of their total weekend spending, up from 40.7% last year.

“Generally speaking, the numbers were terrific,” said NRF president and CEO Matt Shay said during a Sunday afternoon media briefing.
Unfazed by the decline in spending, Shay affirmed NRF’s earlier forecast which calls for holiday spending during November and December to increase 3.9% to $602 billion.