It’s hard to know ahead of time the effect of stores opening earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving Day.
But Monday morning quarterbacking of the numbers shows that in addition to pulling a lot of workers away from family gatherings on the national holiday, the early opening also looks as if it affected sales overall — and not in a positive way. Thanksgiving Day store openings siphoned off some of the heavy customer traffic on so-called Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.
The National Retail Federation reported on Sunday that consumers’ post-Thanksgiving shopping habits also may have changed in response to retailers’ actions.
“Overall shopper traffic from Thanksgiving Day through Sunday, November 30 dropped 5.2 percent from 2013 (133.7 million unique holiday shoppers versus 141.1 million in 2013). Total shopping, including multiple trips by the same shopper, was also down this weekend (233.3 million versus 248.6 million),” the federation said in a prepared statement.
“A strengthening economy that changes consumers’ reliance on deep discounts, a highly competitive environment, early promotions and the ability to shop 24/7 online all contributed to the shift witnessed this weekend,” said federation President and CEO Matthew Shay. “We are excited to be witnessing an evolutionary change in holiday shopping by both consumers and retailers and expect this trend to continue in the years ahead.”
Internet holiday shopping jumped 8.1 percent on Cyber Monday. In comparison, online sales were up 17.5 percent on Cyper Monday a year ago. Experts said the decline was caused by retailers starting discounts earlier in the heavy shopping season headed toward Christmas.