Sales at Brick-and-Mortar Stores Fell 10% Over Thanksgiving Weekend

Despite the Drop, a 2.4% Rise in Overall Holiday Sales Is Still Expected As Online Spending Gains

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A view of Macy's on Black Friday, November 27, 2015
A view of Macy's on Black Friday, November 27, 2015 Credit: Justin Schuck via Flickr

U.S. holiday shoppers spent more of their time last weekend online and less in line.

Consumer spending at brick-and-mortar retail locations in the U.S. fell 10% to $20.4 billion over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, according to ShopperTrak. The Chicago-based research firm gathers sales and traffic data from receipt information and devices in stores.

Retailers cut back on Thanksgiving hours, rolled out discounts earlier this year and ran more of their bargains online, putting less pressure on consumers to rush out for discounts after their turkey dinners or the next morning. The strategies also contributed to a 26% increase in online sales over the weekend, according to International Business Machines Corp. But even after the brick-and-mortar drop, ShopperTrak maintained its forecast that those sales will rise 2.4% this holiday season.

"The success of the holiday season doesn't hinge on the performance of a single day," said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak's founder. "Seven out of the top ten sales days still remain, and December is anticipated to be strong."

ShopperTrak's forecast for the holiday season is weaker than that of the National Retail Federation, which has predicted a 3.7% sales gain for November and December.

The shoppers that did hit the mall last weekend may have kept a lid on spending. About half of Americans shopped on Black Friday this year, similar to last year, the International Council of Shopping Centers said Tuesday. But 55% said they spent the same or less than last year, according to a survey of 1,016 adults the trade group commissioned from Opinion Research Corp.

--Bloomberg News

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