U.S. store sales down slightly for Thanksgiving and Black Friday

Sat Nov 28, 2015 5:43pm EST
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By Nandita Bose

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Sales at U.S. brick-and-mortar stores on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday were down slightly from last year, but the performance was still seen as strong in a holiday shopping season where discounts spread well beyond the weekend and many shoppers moved to the web.

Online sales were up by double digits, according to data released on Saturday.

Data from analytics firm RetailNext showed overall sales for both days fell 1.5 percent on flat customer traffic, while average spending per shopper dropped 1.4 percent.

Preliminary data from ShopperTrak showed sales at stores totaled about $12.1 billion on Thursday and Friday. The company said it is an "estimated decrease from last year" but did not give the percentage decline due to an internal change in the way it calculates data. Last year, it reported sales of $12.29 billion for the same period.

ShopperTrak will release its final sales numbers on Tuesday. It stuck by its forecast of a 2.4 percent increase for November and December sales.

The data highlights the waning importance of Black Friday, which until a few years ago kicked off the holiday shopping season, as more retailers start discounting earlier in the month and open their doors on Thanksgiving Day.

Both firms said that despite the fall in sales over the two days, the performance must be interpreted as a good one for retail stores because sales held up amid rising competition from online shopping and were better than expected due to pent-up consumer demand and lower gas prices.

Last year Black Friday and Thanksgiving sales were disappointing, forcing retailers to double down on discounts which led to a last-minute shopping frenzy.   Continued...

Shoppers leave with check out with their purchases from  the Best Buy store in Westbury, New York November 27, 2015. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton