By Jay Keller
Thanksgiving Day is the new Black Friday in 2012 as retailers won over millions of holiday shoppers by offering huge bargains in stores and on websites. A record 247 million shoppers spent an average of $423 as total spending eclipsed $59 billion through the weekend. More than 35 million Americans scored deals on Thanksgiving Day while a record 89 million shoppers braved the crowds on Black Friday, according to a National Retail Federation survey conducted by BIGinsight over the weekend.
Retailers in 2012 specifically targeted holiday bargain hunters to drive spending on everything from hot electronic items to cashmere sweaters and toys. As a result, shoppers visited stores earlier, weekend shopping included multiple visits to stores and websites and practical consumers dominated shopping trends as eight in 10 bought non-gift items over the weekend.
Walmart U.S. reported its best-ever Black Friday events as the retailer saw larger crowds than last year and a huge response to its first ever one-hour guarantee on key electronic items. Walmart’s Black Friday plan included three events this year at 8 p.m., 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. During the high traffic period from 8 p.m. through midnight, Walmart processed nearly 10 million register transactions and almost 5,000 items per second. That’s 1.8 million towels, 1.3 million televisions, 1.3 million dolls and 250,000 bicycles.
Frugal shoppers looking to get the most value from their dollars sought exclusive product offerings, as more than half (53.5 percent) of shoppers visited department stores this weekend, up from 48.7 percent last year, according to the NRF survey (PDF) . While just over 12.3 percent of Thanksgiving weekend shoppers plan to use layaway, according to a BIGinsight analysis, Walmart and Kmart were the top destinations for shoppers planning to pay for gifts on installments. Electronics, toys and apparel remained the top items for layaway shoppers reserving this holiday season.
Many of the larger retailers dialed up Cyber Monday offerings with a strategy based on simplicity. Sears Holdings is offering a “customized and integrated mobile and online shopping experience” while JCPenny and Walmart continue to fuel special deals that make it easier for a shopper to buy online and ship for free without spending limits.
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