Holiday shopping starts strong in Chattanooga, across nation

Holiday shopping starts strong in Chattanooga, across nation

November 27th, 2012 by Joan Garrett McClane in Business Around the Region

An employee slips in the front door of the Jo-Ann fabric store while shoppers, the earliest of whom had been waiting since about 3 a.m., sit outside on Black Friday.

Photo by Jake Daniels /Times Free Press.

By The Numbers

• 35 million people went to retail stores or websites to shop on Thanksgiving.

• 89 million people went to retail stores or websites on Black Friday.

• $423 was the average spent by shoppers on Black Friday weekend this year, up from an average of $398 a year ago.

• $59.1 billion was the total spending estimated for 2012 Black Friday Weekend, up 13 percent from a year ago

Source: National Retail Federation

POLL: Did you spend too much on Black Friday?

The big shopping bang that happened after the turkey slid into Ziploc was much more fruitful than retailers expected this year.

Spending jumped by 13 percent over the weekend from last year to reach $59.1 billion and beat industry projections from earlier this season, the National Retail Federation said Monday.

"It was our biggest sales weekend in history," said Mark McKnight, marketing director at local outdoor retailer Rock/Creek. "We had 50 percent more shoppers than last year. I am curious about it. We advertise all over the place. But it wasn't that different than last year."

And the scurry in stores and online was also driven by a lot of "self-giving." Eight in 10 shoppers purchased goods like clothing, movies, video games, electronics and jewelry for themselves, according to research conducted by the National Retail Federation last weekend.

With big box retailers opening earlier than ever this year, more shoppers were ready to head out early. This year, 35 million people shopped on Thanksgiving Day, up from 29 million last year. Still, Friday shopping remained the most popular with 89 million people.

"There's no question that millions of people were drawn to retailers' aggressive online promotions this weekend, making sure to research and compare prices days in advance to ensure they were getting the best deal they could," said BIGinsight Consumer Insights Director Pam Goodfellow in a statement. "However, with shopper traffic increasing at department, discount, and clothing stores over the weekend, it's clear that consumers still recognize Black Friday as one of the biggest shopping days of the year, as they have for decades."

Also, more people continue to shop online this year. Many perused deals on Black Friday, as well as Cyber Monday. Around 40.7 percent of people's weekend spending budget was spent online, up from 37.8 percent, according to the National Retail Federation.

With time, McKnight said he thinks more and more people are getting comfortable with online shopping. In Chattanooga, Thanksgiving weekend offered nice weather and mild temperatures.

People preferred to stay outside and shop on their computers in the evening, he said.

Bob Mason, owner of Rone Regency Jewelers, said he thinks an uptick in retails sales reveals that many Americans are taking a sigh of relief after economic tumbles and political uncertainty.

Rone Regency didn't offer discounts this weekend, but sales were up 21 percent over last year, said Mason. Several Rolex watches sold for more than $6,900 and several engagement rings were purchased as well.

"People were more confident about what the economy was doing," he said. "The election was over with. The real estate market was coming back. People were relieved to get this all behind us and more forward."

Contact staff writer Joan Garrett at or 423-757-6601.Follow her on Twitter at @JoanGarrettCTFP.