More People Seek Greater Bargains And Spend Less During Black Friday Compared To 2008

The National Retail Federation has reported that the average Thanksgiving spend has declined from $372 in 2008 to $343 in 2009, as more shoppers sought out rock-bottom 5 am bargains: the estimated number of bargain hunters increased from 172 million to 195 million.

More from the NRF:

“Shoppers proved this weekend that they were willing to open their wallets for a bargain, heading out to take advantage of great deals on less expensive items like toys, small appliances and winter clothes,” said Tracy Mullin, NRF President and CEO. “While retailers are encouraged by the number of Americans who shopped over Black Friday weekend, they know they have their work cut out for them to keep people coming back through Christmas. Shoppers can continue to expect retailers to focus on low prices and bargains through the end of December.”

At some point in addition to revenue, retailers will indeed have to focus on margins. And it is very likely that gross and operating margins were precisely what was sacrificed in order to get as many people out and shopping this holiday season.

And here is a sign of the desperation that has gripped US consumers in light of the worst unemployment in almost a century.

In order to nab the best holiday items, more shoppers headed out for bargains while it was still dark outside. According to the survey, nearly one-third of shoppers (31.2%) were at the stores by 5 a.m., compared with 23.3 percent who were at stores by that time last year.

“During a more robust economy, people may be inclined to hit the “snooze” button on Black Friday, but high unemployment and a focus on price caused shoppers to visit stores early in anticipation of the best deals,” said Phil Rist, Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, BIGresearch.

Full report from the NRF: