Best Buy Becomes a Winner As Thanksgiving Holiday Sales Surge

U.S. retailers racked up a record $52.4 billion in sales over the Thanksgiving weekend, a 16.4 percent jump from a year ago, as early hours and attractive promotions brought out more shoppers, an industry trade group said on Sunday.

"Best Buy's success is partially due to locking in compelling exclusive deals, better than Amazon's, and having unique in-store-only offers forcing the visit," says Credit Suisse analyst Gary Balter. Photo: Tmester/Flickr

Among the early winners after the traditional start of the holiday shopping season was Best Buy Co Inc, a reversal from 2010 when the electronics retailer’s erroneous bet on 3D televisions led to a disappointing season, Reuters reports.

Best Buy attracted shoppers by being one of the companies that opened its stores at midnight Thanksgiving night, and unlike in 2010, it focused more on having lower prices for big TVs and other popular items.

The average spending for the weekend rose to $398.62 per person from $365.34 a year ago. Total spending reached an estimated $52.4 billion versus $45 billion in the year-ago period.

More people headed to stores and websites over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and average spending per person rose 9.1 percent as bargain-hunting shoppers scooped up discounts on everything from gadgets to hoodies, a National Retail Federation survey on Sunday showed.

“Last year, they weren’t as responsive with their pricing as they needed to be. We are seeing a different set of behaviors from them this time around,” said Lawrence Creatura, a portfolio manager at Federated Clover Investment Advisors.

But it is not at all certain that retailers will be able to keep the momentum going for the rest of the season, according to the Yahoo’s Finance.

“One swallow does not a holiday season make. After the deepest recession in decades, the solid Black Friday weekend is welcome news, but we’re only in the second quarter of a long playoff game,” said Craig Johnson, president of consulting firm Customer Growth Partners.

The National Retail Federation forecast a 2.8 percent increase in sales for the November-to-December holiday season, down from the 5.2 percent increase in the same period last year.

Aside from Best Buy, analysts and investors also named Macy’s Inc and Wal-Mart Stores Inc among those that were strong starters.

“Best Buy’s success is partially due to locking in compelling exclusive deals, better than Amazon’s, and having unique in-store-only offers forcing the visit,” Credit Suisse analyst Gary Balter said.

Research firm comScore reported on Sunday that e-commerce spending jumped 26 percent on Black Friday, the day after the Thanksgiving holiday, compared with the same day a year ago. ComScore reported $816 million in online sales for the day, up from $648 million.

Each of the top five retail websites saw double-digit gains in visitors versus last year, led by Amazon.com. Wal-Mart ranked second, followed by Best Buy, Target and Apple, comScore said.

“Amazon.com once again led the pack, with 50 percent more visitors than any other retailer, while also showing the highest growth rate versus last year,” comScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni said.

Amazon has used “every method at hand, old and new to promote their business this holiday season so far,” WSL Strategic Retail CEO Wendy Liebmann said, referring to the online chain’s promotions in print, online and circulars.

Online sales also have been strong throughout November. Online sales through Saturday rose 15 percent compared with the same period a year ago, according to comScore, which is based on Reston, Virginia. Through the first 25 days of the month, online sales have totaled $12.74 billion.

 ComScore said 50 million Americans visited online retail sites on Black Friday, up 35 percent from a year ago. Each of the top five retail sites reported double-digit gains in visitors, in percentage terms, led by top retail site Amazon. Walmart ranked second, followed by Best Buy, Target and Apple.

About 122.9 million Americans plan to shop on Cyber Monday this year, up from the 106.9 million who shopped on Cyber Monday in 2010, NRF Vice President Ellen Davis said on Sunday, citing a survey conducted by BIGresearch.

ComScore reported online sales for Black Friday two days after another researcher, IBM Corp.’s Coremetrics unit, reported a smaller online spending gain for Black Friday. Coremetrics reported a 20 percent increase, compared with comScore’s 26 percent.

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