Early Data for Shopping Weekend Released

(Reuters) -

The year-end shopping season started in earnest with the Thanksgiving weekend, which runs from Thursday, Nov. 26 to Sunday, Nov. 30 and includes Black Friday, which often ranks as the busiest shopping day of the year.

The November-December shopping season is crucial for many retailers because the two months can account for anywhere from 20 to 40 percent of their annual sales.

On Saturday, several firms released projections for the early part of the Thanksgiving weekend:

– Retail analytics firm ShopperTrak projected that combined sales in physical stores stood at $12.1 billion over Thanksgiving and Black 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’s projections are based in part on traffic data from tens of thousands of devices installed at brick-and-mortar locations across the United States. Because the forecast is limited to in-store conditions, it does not capture the growing share of sales online.

The importance of the Thanksgiving weekend has also waned somewhat in recent years as retailers promote earlier in the season and demand shifts online. Last year, ShopperTrak said in-store sales fell 0.5 percent over Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

– Analytics firm RetailNext published a projection of traffic and sales for Thanksgiving and Black Friday based on transaction data. It said overall sales for both days fell 1.5 percent on flat customer traffic, while average spending per shopper dropped 1.4 percent.

Last year it said it found overall shopper traffic on Black Friday fell 14 percent, but that the average shopper spending rose 1.9 percent.

– Adobe Systems Inc said that online sales for Thanksgiving and Black Friday rose 18 percent to $4.4 billion.

Adobe’s projections are based on aggregated data from consumer visits to more than 4,500 retail websites that it tracks. Adobe said its projections are within 2 percent of the actual spending on those Websites.