Numbers released on Black Friday spending indicate that sales were at their lowest since 2009. The results beg the question of whether Black consumers withholding their dollars put a dent in the pockets of major retailers.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) reports that purchases at stores and websites fell 2.9 percent to $57.4 billion during the four days, beginning with the Nov. 28 Thanksgiving holiday. More than 141 million unique shoppers have already shopped or will have shopped by the end of the big Thanksgiving weekend, up from 139 million over the same timeframe last year.
However, the NRF says low prices, aggressive discounts and the fact that many holiday shoppers started shopping earlier than ever this year contributed to the slight decline in average spending. According to the survey, shoppers spent an average of $407.02 from Thursday through Sunday, down from $423.55 last year.
Total spending is estimated to reach $57.4 billion. NRF is still expecting total holiday sales to increase 3.9 percent to $602 billion.
Traffic on Thanksgiving Day itself grew 27 percent as nearly 45 million shoppers, or 31.8 percent of holiday shoppers, took advantage of special “turkey day” savings offers, up from 35 million in 2012. Black Friday was the biggest day: More than 92 million people (65.2 percent) shopped for apparel, electronics and more, up from nearly 89 million last year.
“Cold weather, unique promotions and unbeatable prices put millions of Americans in the mood to shop for holiday gifts this weekend,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Retailers’ late night and early morning promotions struck just the right chord for those hoping to kick off the holiday shopping season with friends and family.”
While numbers don’t lie, it can’t be counted out that many Black people, the nation’s largest consumers, heeded the call to not spend or spend less last weekend.
The AmNews reported last week that several groups, including the United Negro Improvement and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, called for a boycott on Black Friday by Blacks in response to recent injustices and “shop-and-frisk.” Other advocates, like Dr. Boyce Watkins, also urged Blacks to spend their money on Black-owned businesses.
However, while many Blacks might not have gone into stores this Black Friday, numbers from Nielson indicate that Blacks are showing more interest in shopping online and participating in Cyber Monday. The concept became more popular among Blacks between 2011 and 2012.
On Cyber Monday, Blacks visiting retail sites jumped 19 percent from 2011 to 2012.