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Black Friday Recap: "Cautiously Optimistic"

Posted by: John Tozzi on November 30, 2009

More shoppers crowded stores this weekend, but they each spent less on average than even last year’s frugal consumers, according to the National Retail Federation. The retailers we’re following say they saw a boost over last year’s post-Thanksgiving shopping weekend.

From Mathias Eichler, owner of Einmaleins, the European home goods store in Olympia, Wash.:

Sales are up 22% over last year [for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday]. Customer count is up 14% over last year. … Cautiously optimistic might be the word for the season. Growth is welcome, but I’m looking for about 30% for December…. Friday and Saturday customer count was actually a bit down, which I don’t like seeing.

He says online promotions have helped. Eichler hopes to use cash coming in from sales to order more product that he can get in before the holidays, because inventory was a problem last year.

David Sasson of Wichita online art vendor Overstock Art reported a 36% increase in sales for the Thursday through Sunday period, as well as a higher rate of converting site visitors to buyers. (PayPal says Black Friday purchase volume rose 20% over last year. That jump was down from 31% increase in 2008 vs. 2007.) [Note: I updated PayPal figures after the company corrected their earlier release.]

For Frank Simoncioni of Aunt Sally’s Praline Shops in New Orleans, he said retail sales over the weekend were strong but his big night is tonight, when the New Orleans Saints football game will draw tens of thousands of fans into the city.

Black Friday is not as big a deal for local small businesses as it is for big box stores, department stores, and electronics retailers, as CNNMoney’s Catherine Clifford reports. Many boutique shops see their busiest days much later in December.

For more on how small retailers are approaching the holiday season, see our earlier posts.

Reader Comments

Frank Fitton

November 30, 2009 5:43 PM

Some people might argue that its worth the extra money not to have to deal with the nightmare that is Black Friday shopping, but the majority of people in this country simply loving getting a great deal.

Perhaps the reason that we had more people out there this year is simply due to the fact that more people find themselves in need of a deal. If our country has learned anything from this recession its about the benefits of being a little bit frugal. Things like waiting in lines and dealing with crowds now seem worth it in order to save money to an increasing percentage of our society. However, the lack of big ticket items show that things simply aren’t better yet. The credit crunch plays a big role in this situation. When you buy a big ticket item you almost always are doing it on credit, and with the interest rate hikes and limit decreases we’ve seen across the board recently, that credit simply isn’t there.

Check out my blog on the Black Friday shopping numbers at....

Joe B

November 30, 2009 9:00 PM

Wouldn't it be advantageous for retailers to offer Black Friday type deals on more than just one or two days a year? How many of the BF shoppers are buying more than just the low markup sale items?

Timothy Bishop CMSM

November 30, 2009 9:43 PM

Downtown Ellensburg, WA merchants report strong start to holiday season with up to 17% sales increase over 2008

Mathias Eichler

December 1, 2009 2:13 AM

This is fun. I feel like running a public company, with my numbers being so publicly displayed here on this blog.
Anyone want some share?? ;-)


Mathias Eichler

December 1, 2009 9:56 PM

Advantageous it might be, but the items that are offered are loss-leaders. Best Buy doesn't make any money on stuff like that. They can't keep doing that forever. I heard reports that shoppers bought the deal and not much more.
Plus you're teaching the consumer that everything is always cheap, free and easy. You're eroding the market by slashing prices all the time. Now we HAVE TO produce in China cause we can't afford local production anymore.
Big box retailers can only sell product dirt-cheap while there still is a MSRP, once the consumer accepted the 70% price as the norm you lost the game.

I much rather teach my customer value, beauty, quality and longevity.

At least that's the plan ;-)

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What's it like to run your own company today? Entrepreneurs face multiple hurdles new and old, from raising capital and managing employees to keeping up with technology and competing in a global marketplace. In this blog, the Small Business channel's John Tozzi and Nick Leiber discuss the news, trends, and ideas that matter to small business owners. Follow them on Twitter @newentrepreneur.

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