Retailers are reporting unofficially that Black Friday may be one of the best ever. Traditionally, Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the official start to the holiday shopping season. It also marks the time when retailers can make or break as the holiday shopping period accounts for over 50% of retail sales for an entire year. This year many retailers opened up a few hours earlier late Thanksgiving evening.
Big retailer CEOs have been calling this year one of the best in history as stores opened even earlier than usual. Droves of people have been pouring into big stores like Wal-Mart (NYSE:MMT), Target (NYSE:TGT), Macy’s (NYSE:M) and Best Buy (NYSE:BBY).
Black Friday arrived with consumer sentiment at levels previously reached during recessions, as a record share of households said this is a bad time to spend, according to the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index. The measure has reached minus 50 or less in nine of the past 10 weeks, an unprecedented performance in its 26-year history.
Even with low confidence, sales may have gained from a year earlier as shoppers paid more for goods and unleashed some pent-up demand, said Craig Johnson, president of consulting firm Customer Growth Partners. Revenue from Black Friday may grow to $27 billion, an 8% increase from the same period a year ago. Many shoppers surveyed said they spent more this year than last year.
Other retail chains faring well during Black Friday include JCPenney (NYSE:JCP), and Kohl’s (NYSE:KSS). This year could be remembered in shopping history as the year Black Friday got pushed aside as the kickoff to the holiday shopping season was watered down by Thursday-night sales that span a broader period and mimic the 24/7 shopping experience provided by online competitors.
Britt Beemer, president of America’s Research Group, estimated that half of America was shopping before 6 a.m. Black Friday morning. “Retailers are scared to death of any competitor getting an advantage,” Beemer said. “When one guy goes to Thursday night, everybody else follows.”