(By Balaseshan) Retail foot traffic rose 3.5 percent to more than 307.67 million store visits, while retail sales decreased 1.8 percent on Black Friday despite an estimated $11.2 billion shoppers spending, according to findings by ShopperTrak.
Last year, Black Friday foot traffic increased over 2010 by 4.7%. In 2011, consumers spent $11.4 billion on Black Friday, up from $10.69 billion in 2010.
ShopperTrak said Black Friday proved to be a mixed bag for retailers, as retail foot traffic increased over last year, but retail sales decreased slightly.
"Black Friday continues to be an important day in retail. This year, though, more retailers than last year began their 'doorbuster' deals on Thursday, Thanksgiving itself. So while foot traffic did increase on Friday, those Thursday deals attracted some of the spending that's usually meant for Friday," said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder.
According to Martin, shoppers are returning to stores. Election-related distractions have ceased, the Northeast is recovering from extreme storms and consumer confidence is rising. Still, shoppers remain value-conscious, taking advantage of Black Friday deals – even if some of those deals started a bit early.
ShopperTrak said that total foot traffic by region, compared to 2011 Black Friday, changed as follows: Midwest increased 12.9 percent, Northeast rose 7.6 percent, South increased 8.7 percent, and West decreased 11.3 percent. Foot traffic increased by 0.7 percent in the apparel sector.
Overall, Black Friday has provided a strong kickoff to the main holiday shopping season – those days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. To sustain foot traffic and convert it into high sales, however, Martin says retailers will need to understand their shopper conversion rates to take full advantage of increased shopper opportunity.