This year’s Black Friday sales fell 11% from the same period last year, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).
US consumers spent on average $380.95 per person, down 6.4% from a year ago.
Overall, total Thanksgiving weekend sales were estimated to be $50.9 billion.
The NRF attributed the decline to shifting consumer habits, such as earlier promotions and the growth of online shopping.
“A strengthening economy that changes consumers’ reliance on deep discounts, a highly competitive environment, early promotions and the ability to shop 24/7 online all contributed to the shift witnessed this weekend,” said NRF president and chief executive Matthew Shay in a statement.
Once more, retailers chose to open earlier on Thanksgiving Thursday in the hope of luring in more shoppers, with Wal-Mart, Target, Macy’s and others offering special promotions for those first through the door.
However, those deals and earlier hours appear not to have convinced shoppers to spend, perhaps because they expect further deals as the holiday shopping period progresses.
The decline in sales surprised many, who had seen increasingly positive US economic data as well as lower gas prices as signs that the US holiday shopping season would be better than it has been in the past.
Last week, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis revised its initial estimate of third-quarter US economic growth upwards.
The figures showed the US economy expanded at an annualized rate of 3.9% between July and September, up from the 3.5% first estimated.
Ferguson protesters began targeting Black Friday sales at major retailers overnight in a new tactic to vent their anger at a grand jury decision not to indict a white Officer Darren Wilson who fatally shot black teenager Michael Brown.
About 75 demonstrators protested peacefully, chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot!”, bemusing bargain-hunters pushing their brimming shopping carts inside a Walmart in another nearby suburb of St. Louis.
They dispersed peacefully when ordered by a small group of police, moving on to a Target store where they staged a similar demonstration. More protests were planned for Friday.
Ferguson became a flashpoint for often troubled US race relations after Officer Darren Wilson shot dead Michael Brown on August 9.
The grand jury’s decision on November 24 not to charge Darren Wilson prompted a spasm of fury in Ferguson. About a dozen businesses were torched and more than 100 people were arrested in clashes with riot police that rumbled on into Tuesday night.
Before heading in convoy to Walmart late on Thursday, a group of some 100 demonstrators ate Thanksgiving dinner, sang, prayed and discussed their new strategy in the basement of a St. Louis church.
Ferguson, home to about 21,000 people, is a predominantly black city where almost all the political leaders and police are white.
Pastor Jamal H. Bryant, a spiritual advisor to Michael Brown’s family, is urging African-Americans to buy exclusively from businesses owned by black people on Black Friday, America’s busiest shopping day.
Michael Brown, 18, was killed by white Officer Darren Wilson on August 9, in Ferguson, Missouri.
Jamal Bryant launched his campaign earlier in the week using the hashtag #handsupdontspend – a reference to a slogan used by Ferguson protesters. It’s been tweeted more than 7,000 times, with other hashtags pushing the campaign including #notonedime, #boycottblackfriday and #blackoutblackfriday.
“It’s my hope that black businesses and the black community will benefit,” he says, citing a study that said African-Americans collectively spend $1 trillion a year.
Jamal Bryant says that a sustained campaign of economic pressure would serve as a protest against police violence.
“America responds to money more than they do to masses,” he says.
Kicking back against Black Friday isn’t a new idea. For more than 20 years the anti-capitalist magazine Adbusters has urged people to give the shops a miss on what it calls Buy Nothing Day.
Jamal Bryant stressed his action isn’t a boycott but rather a call to support businesses owned by black people across the US.
The events in Ferguson over the past week have inspired a number of online fundraising drives, including one by a bakery that was damaged during rioting and the Ferguson public library.
Jamal Bryant cited the 1960s civil rights movement as an example of the power of economic action.
Wal-Mart announced that on November 21 they will match competitors select Black Friday deals one week early.
Some of the deals include 40-inch LED HDTV, 60-inch TVs from LG and Sony, PlayStation 4 offer and many more. Wal-Mart will unveil the specific items and prices on Walmart.com this Thursday, November 20.
Walmart Black Friday Doorbuster Deals:
Element 50-inch 1080p 60Hz LED HDTV for $218.00
Vizio 65-inch 1080p 120Hz LED HDTV for $648.00
iPad Mini 16GB w/ Wi-Fi + $30 Walmart Gift Card for $199.00
XBox One Halo: The Master Chief Collection Bundle + $30 Walmart Gift Card for $329.00
RCA 7-in Google Play Wi-Fi Tablet for $29.00
LG Blu-ray Disc Player for $35.00
Beats By Dr.Dre Wireless Headphones for $149.00
HP Intel Celeron 15.6-inch Touch Laptop for $249.00
Element 60-inch 1080p 120Hz LED HDTV for $498.00
Fitbit Flex Wristband for 69.00
HP 15.6-inch Intel Celeron 4GB RAM 500GB HDD for $159.00
Walmart employees pushing for higher wages announced on November 14 they were planning protests at 1,600 Walmart stores nationwide on Black Friday.
Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year in the United States.
The labor group, Our Walmart, said it had protested 1,200 to 1,400 Walmart stores last year on Black Friday, the day after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc, owner of Walmart brand stores, and the largest private employer in the United States, has been a target for activists in the contentious national debate over proposals to raise the minimum wage.
The announcement comes a day after police arrested 23 people outside a Los Angeles-area Walmart protesting what they say are the company’s low wages and its retaliation against employees who pushed for better working conditions.
The arrests on November 13 followed several hours of protest by a number of Walmart workers in California, according to Our Walmart and The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, or UFCW.
About 30 workers entered a Walmart store in the Crenshaw neighborhood of Los Angeles on Thursday morning and held a sit-down protest for two hours, UFCW spokesman Marc Goumbri said.
The workers then protested at a Walmart store in Pico Rivera in eastern Los Angeles where the arrests eventually took place.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc Chief Executive Douglas McMillon last month said the company would work to phase out minimum wage jobs “over time”, a move seen as largely symbolic as just 6,000 of its 1.3 million U.S. workers make minimum wage.
The average full-time hourly wage at Walmart stores is $12.92, compared with the federal minimum wage of $7.25, according to the company.
Retailers have announced their hours for this year’s Thanksgiving weekend.
Black Friday marks the traditional kick-off to the holiday shopping season, and the shift toward opening earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving is continuing.
Macy’s will open most of its department stores on Thanksgiving night at 6 p.m., two hours earlier than last year’s 8 p.m. Thanksgiving opening.
The stores at Arundel Mills also will open at 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 27, but will close at 1 a.m. before reopening on the actual Black Friday at 6 a.m., the Hanover mall said today. Retailers among more than 200 at the mall include Best Buy, Coach Factory Store, The Disney Store Outlet, H&M, Michael Kors Outlet, New York & Company Outlet, Nike Factory store and SaksFifth Avenue OFF 5th, among others. Last year, the mall opened at 8 p.m. but stayed open all night.
At The Mall in Columbia, White Marsh Mall and Towson Town Center, some stores are choosing to open from 6 p.m. to midnight on Thanksgiving, while others will be open from midnight to 6 a.m. on Black Friday. But the shopping centers won’t open mall-wide until 6 a.m. on Black Friday. Department stores at the malls will set their own hours.
Macy’s will open most of its department stores on Thanksgiving night at 6PM, two hours earlier than last year (photo Getty Images)
Macy’s issued a statement today saying it’s opening earlier in response to the customer-driven trend toward early shopping for Black Friday.
“Macy’s aims to accommodate customers who count on us to be there when they are ready to shop,” the retailer’s statement said.
“In response to the significant, sustained customer interest in last year’s opening on Thanksgiving, both at Macy’s and at many other retailers, we will be opening our full-line department stores at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.”
Macy’s added that its employees volunteer to work that day. Some workers prefer to work Thanksgiving and have time off on Black Friday. Those who work an opening Thanksgiving shift will be given incentive pay.
“Our people are able to make their own decisions about how they contribute to our most important and busiest weekend of the year,” the retailer’s statement said.
“In just a few days, the large majority of the shifts have already been filled voluntarily.”
More shoppers will wait until Thanksgiving weekend to start their holiday shopping this year compared to last year, according to a survey released today by The NPD Group.