Record number of shoppers hit stores on Thanksgiving weekend, over $59 billion spent

posted at 2:41 pm on November 26, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Having worked a few Thanksgiving weekends in retail, I’ve remained traumatized enough to avoid shopping on Black Friday or any point on the holiday weekend ever since. I’m in a distinct minority, though, and an even smaller one this year. The National Retail Federation estimates that American consumers made 247 million shopping excursions in the last four days, combining on-line and in-store visits, and generated over $59 billion in sales:

As the BBC reports, the average per-visit spending total rose too, although not quite as much:

A record 247 million people visited stores and websites between Thursday and Sunday and spent a total of $59.1bn (£36.9bn), 13% more than last year, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said.

The average shopper spent $423 over the weekend, up from $398 last year.

Surveys suggest Americans also plan to spend big on so-called “Cyber Monday”.

“Millions of Americans found time this Thanksgiving to make the most of retailers’ promotions and enjoy a special family holiday,” said NRF chief executive Matthew Shay.

That’s a 6.3% increase in per-shopper spending, significant in itself but also demonstrating that the growth was broader rather than deeper.  The biggest jump came on line, though, which exceeded a billion dollars on Friday for the first time, an increase of 25%.  Thanksgiving Day sales, while most brick-and-mortar stores were closed, rose a third over last year, according to  They expect sales for “Cyber Monday” today to go over $1.5 billion, which would be a 20% increase over last year.

Retailers of all stripes better enjoy it while they can.  The NRF tells the BBC that they expect a 4.1% increase in overall sales this year, which would be weaker than last year’s 5.6%, and that this burst may end up taking demand from later in the holiday season.  Thanks to heavy discounting, that might end up costing retailers margin on those sales. If consumers fail to see a resolution of the tax dispute in Washington as Christmas approaches, they may start thinking more like Grinches than Santa Clauses, too.


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I do not believe half of this stuff. I bet they revise it down in a month or so…I intend to buy something for the kids…everyone else will get coal in their stocking.

Terrye on November 26, 2012 at 4:07 PM

I always see it as good news when my fellow citizens trample, kick, claw and generally assault one another to save $3 on some crappy little thing that they didn’t really want anyway.

Why? Because I’m reminded how they will act when their guvment checks stop arriving and food and other basic supplies become hard to find; it keeps me on my toes.

Bishop on November 26, 2012 at 3:19 PM


idalily on November 26, 2012 at 4:08 PM

Most likely bunch of moochers buying Ipads for Christmas gifts with their food stamps. Great. It’s Obama’s economy now. Let him own it.

sauldalinsky on November 26, 2012 at 4:10 PM

Dance, biatch, dance, fools!

Fund Your Utopia Without Me.™

Ditto to RWM

Schadenfreude on November 26, 2012 at 3:01 PM

It’s been well established that you do not have the mental capacity to be anything other than a tax leeching ward of the state.

tommyhawk on November 26, 2012 at 4:25 PM

I doubt it’s 59 Billion SPENT. More like — on credit cards.
Hasn’t been paid yet, so don’t count it.

I wonder how many EBT cards some of these people had to “save up for” to get a few dollars off a new flat screen or an iPad — all because they feel entitled to have it?? Little do they know, many people with jobs DON’T have these things because we are responsible with our money.

And why are people being dictated to spend money they don’t have — all because of a religious date on the calendar?? Can’t all that good-will be spread around all year long? Or does it just end up being greed for one day??


Some days I don’t like being a responsible adult.

pastselldate on November 26, 2012 at 4:33 PM

This is because Black Friday started on Thursday afternoon/evening.

Amjean on November 26, 2012 at 4:39 PM

pastselldate on November 26, 2012 at 4:33 PM

I don’t think you understand how EBT cards work…

ernesto on November 26, 2012 at 4:42 PM

ANd what percentage of this was paid for with credit?

Yakko77 on November 26, 2012 at 4:43 PM

Taking their cue from their “betters” in D.C., the frenzied shoppers this weekend doubled down on their credit card debt.

The only shopping that I did was to purchase some items for a youngster whose name I drew from our church’s giving tree. The parents of this destitute kid may not have my “skills” in getting more bang for the buck. Actually, it was fun trying to find the right gifts for an anonymous recipient.

onlineanalyst on November 26, 2012 at 5:05 PM

My business had a really great weekend. AND, by accident we had listed a bunch of stuff on Ebay that ended on both Black Friday & Cyber Monday (this morning) and they really sold well.

So well, that we’re making it a new family tradition. That was awesome.

p0s3r on November 26, 2012 at 5:05 PM

I don’t think you understand how EBT cards work…

ernesto on November 26, 2012 at 4:42 PM

Oh I FULLY understand how they work.
While our son was in karate class, one mother boasted about “saving up” her EBT card money (because she sells them). But she couldn’t decide if she wanted a tattoo or a Coach purse. And she would need to go to the food bank to get her groceries this week — all with a grin on her face.

No word of a lie. This actually happened.

pastselldate on November 26, 2012 at 5:11 PM

Retail stocks fell on Monday after data showed Black Friday sales dipped despite an increase in store traffic. Mall traffic tracker ShopperTrak said on Saturday retail sales decreased 1.8% on Friday

Market down 42 points.


tom daschle concerned on November 26, 2012 at 5:12 PM

I wonder how much of that was Guns, Ammo, food, water and other ‘prepper’ supplies?

Galt2009 on November 26, 2012 at 5:21 PM

Galt2009 on November 26, 2012 at 5:21 PM

I wonder if there are Preppy ‘preppers’? People who hoard oxford shirts, argyle sweaters and top-siders… Maybe, some Nutella Poptarts, Sushi and monogramed napkins? Just a thought.

Fallon on November 26, 2012 at 5:38 PM

This could be the “potato effect”.
There could be an upsurge in bargain shopping as people lose purchasing power and their non-bargain shopping drops.

Count to 10 on November 26, 2012 at 6:22 PM

One last quick point: My main argument was not about whether the economy is good or bad (although I think it’s improving). My point was that on Hot Air, good news is viewed with skepticism and suspicion, and bad news is greeted with open arms. That’s not right.

Alpha_Male on November 26, 2012 at 3:24 PM

That’s because most of us know that current policies are causing and prolonging this depression, just as FDR did in the thirties. We know that “signs of recovery” are illusory until the spending goes back down.

Count to 10 on November 26, 2012 at 6:28 PM

Pushing the Christmas “buying season” before Halloween this year has really backfired as far as I’m concerned. Our family voted unanimously on Thanksgiving that Christmas presents are cancelled this year. The house will be decorated inside and out as it always is, complete with spotlighted Manger Scene outside. I will cook a beautiful meal (already have a filet mignon roast in the freezer), and they will contribute appetizers and dessert. We all provide adult beverages.

I have a few kids that I will buy small gifts for, but that’s it. Let it burn.

Naturally Curly on November 26, 2012 at 6:51 PM

So I’m curious, how many of these shoppers charged their purchases on credit cards that they cannot pay?
I know people who are charging up their cards bcs they think they’re going to get a bail out bcs Obama was re-elected.
I $hit you not.

Badger40 on November 26, 2012 at 7:04 PM

If politicians and voters had a brain in their head, they would be able to see the Black Friday sales incentive correlation between lowering prices (e.g., lowering tax rates) and the huge stampede of shoppers (e.g., the influx of capital into the market), but I suppose that is a Black Friday leap too far; now going over the fiscal cliff, no problem for either group apparently.

opaobie on November 26, 2012 at 7:41 PM

247 million people, huh? That’s a whole lot of people. So that means all but about 65,000,000 people in the whole country went shopping or visited a website over the weekend? I don’t see how that works.

Does it mean ANY website? ANY shopping (like buying gas or dinner)?

AScott on November 26, 2012 at 10:44 PM

….lets see how it is a month from now

KOOLAID2 on November 26, 2012 at 11:26 PM

Reading Hot Air commenters on posts that have anything to do with positive economic indicators while Obama is in the White House remind me of a headline in the newspaper in the old SimCity computer game: “Naysayers Say Nay.”

Alpha_Male on November 26, 2012 at 2:52 PM

Guess it’s the incongruity of it all. We’re looking for consistency and not expecting to find it in a society where millions more than usual are unemployed, energy is expensive and employers continually threaten to let people go.

Even during the Great Depression, most Americans continued to consume including buying stuff for Christmas. Hollywood did very well back then, too…Americans spent a lot at the movies.

I know there are millions of Americans out there who don’t have a pot to pee in, their utilities are on/off throughout the year, they have no savings, etc., but they do have that i-Pod, that touch-screen phone and 50″ LCD TV in their living rooms.

Even in the worst slums throughout the world, saloons have been kept busy and quite solvent by the poor working class, and with in the last 100 years or so, we may throw the drug industry into that mix.

Consumer spending shouldn’t be big news one way or another, as people will spend and go into debt for a variety of reasons that come down to them feeling better about themselves. The fact that it is important news means there’s something very wrong.

Dr. ZhivBlago on November 26, 2012 at 11:29 PM

IS there a tally that compares the astronomical amount of people that HAD to buy their thanksgiving meal with food stamps vs. the amount of people that went out shopping with money they didn’t have for food?

Not only did my family cut way back on our thanksgiving meal, we did zero amount of buying for Christmas…. Just who on God’s green earth still has money? The government is handing out checks with absolutely nothing to back it up with….16.4 Trillion in DEBT! I guess you cannot expect the Sheeple-People ignorant masses to not budget in the same fashion….. Here the cries of the poor, we are hungry…. so, let’s go out and spend money on a flat screen TV! Have fun on your ride over the cliff………IIIIIEEEEEEE….

ActinUpinTexas on November 27, 2012 at 9:55 AM

My guess is that many consumers figure the U.S. will go bust in January and no one will have to pay their creditors.

zoyclem on November 27, 2012 at 11:47 AM

All this means is more people are running up their credit card bills, throwing caution to the wind. January ought to be a rude awakening in more than one way.

TeaTrekkie on November 27, 2012 at 6:07 PM

50% of the country that voted for Obama thinks the economy is good. The others, maybe they want to spend it while it is worth something. A lot of people skipping Christmas presents in the last few years. You feel like you need a splurge now and then. I am interested in how much is electronics that have gone down in price (not early adapter toys) that people need anyway, like replacing the phone, and replacing the old television, gadgets and pads and keyboards and digital music players. Maybe made in China? dunno.

Fleuries on November 27, 2012 at 8:06 PM

I’m taking these sales numbers with a full shaker of salt. It smells of media cooking up false positivity, in my opinion, just like they have done for years for the Preezy.

In fact, The Blaze is linking to some figures published by Time Mag that show actual sales were DOWN, unless you are talking about the record numbers of gun sales all weekend.

The retail industry is still counting the receipts from “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday.” However, Time Magazine is reporting that total sales figures from brick and mortar stores was anemic.

The retail research firm ShopperTrak estimates that shoppers spent $11.2 billion at physical stores on Black Friday. That represents a 1.8% decline from Black Friday 2011.

ornery_independent on November 27, 2012 at 11:56 PM

My point was that on Hot Air, good news is viewed with skepticism and suspicion, and bad news is greeted with open arms. That’s not right.

Alpha_Male on November 26, 2012 at 3:24 PM

There is a good reason to be skeptical when the media begins acting like the propaganda arm of the government.

zoyclem on November 28, 2012 at 11:35 AM

Dance, biatch, dance, fools!

Fund Your Utopia Without Me.™

Ditto to RWM

Schadenfreude on November 26, 2012 at 3:01 PM

It’s been well established that you do not have the mental capacity to be anything other than a tax leeching ward of the state.

tommyhawk on November 26, 2012 at 4:25 PM

Look at this. tommyhawwwwwwwwwwkkkkkkk*spit* has diagnosed the mental capacity of a Hot Air veteran, *excuse me while I grin to the leeward side of me* as a “tax leeching ward of the state”. Dang this site is amusing.

RushBaby on November 28, 2012 at 4:12 PM

But, did they pay with plastic, or cash?

Another Drew on November 28, 2012 at 4:34 PM

I bought some 9 mm ammo Friday afternoon to go shooting Saturday…..

dentarthurdent on November 28, 2012 at 9:00 PM

Record number of shoppers hit stores on Thanksgiving weekend, over $59 billion spent

Most likely at least 80% of it won’t be paid back before interest rates kick in.

It’s the new American Way. And it almost makes sense considering we are destined for if not runaway inflation then barely under control high inflation.

Of course, the inflation numbers our government publishes will not reflect true inflation, any more than they reflect true unemployment. They can’t. Because too many automatic entitlement, welfare, and hand-out spending increases are tied to government calculated inflation rates.

We are entering the Soviet Union era of US government published statistics on economic activity, in which everyone starts pretending inaccurate numbers are true and anyone who questions them will be considered unpatriotic and a tool of evil anti-government forces.

farsighted on November 28, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Me too Terrye. My husband and I both lost our jobs due to the Obummer economic disaster. We get by now on my husband’s meager military retirement and charity from relatives. We are buying for the kids only this year. We don’t even have any money to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary next month.

sherrimae on November 30, 2012 at 10:04 PM

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