November 28, 2011
The results are in: Black Friday was lucrative for most retailers, thanks to some early doorbuster deals. But not every store was a winner.
Shops like Toys R Us and Walmart made gambles that paid off this year by opening earlier than ever on Thanksgiving evening. Others, including Macy's and Target, opened at midnight, also drawing praise from retail analysts, who think the move to earlier opening hours will be repeated by more retailers next year.
“We wonder if next year you will just be able to have your turkey dinner in the mall,” joked Nomura analyst Paul Lejuez in a report. His comment may not be far from the truth, as almost 25% of Black Friday consumers were shopping or waiting for stores to open at midnight, compared with 10% of shoppers last year and 3% in 2009, according to the National Retail Federation.
Since all stores were offering promotions, those that traditionally rely on shoppers seeking value may have missed out. Mr. Lejuez estimated that teen retailer Aeropostale Inc. lost out to competitors such as American Eagle Outfitters Inc. Womenswear stores such as Talbots and Ann Inc., owner of Ann Taylor and Loft, also saw weak traffic, he noted, because women are typically not shopping for themselves during Black Friday.
Though the day started out with robust traffic, shopping petered out after consumers scooped up the main promotional attractions. Retail research firm NPD Group Inc. reported that 56% of consumers who shopped on Black Friday said they would not likely shop again over the course of the holiday weekend.
“Black Friday may have come in with a roar, but it is going out with a whimper,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD, in a statement. He noted that “the consumer is tapped out or spent out.”
Even so, retailers were also banking on Cyber Monday, the Monday following Thanksgiving when most consumers shop online, to generate sales. Many, including the Gap and J Crew, were offering 30% off discounts for different apparel divisions. In the past, sites such as Target, Bloomingdale's and J Crew were overwhelmed with traffic on Cyber Monday, and experienced temporary shutdowns throughout the day. This year, however, the majority of e-commerce sites were better prepared and functioning properly by mid-afternoon on Monday.