On average, each shopper burned through a record $423, more than the $398 he or she spent last year. In total, they spent $59.1 billion, up from the $52.4 billion spent in 2011, and 16% more than Black Friday 2010, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).
Black Friday officially kicks off the holiday shopping season, which the NRF predicts will fetch $586.1 billion in retail sales. The holiday shopping season is critical for the economy because around 20% of retail sales occur between Black Friday and Christmas. For some retailers, such as jewelers, it's even higher -- nearly 40%.The 2012 holiday shopping season will set a new record, as it is a 4.1% increase over last year. This isn't as good as last year's sales increase of 5.6%. However, it's better than the 10-year average of 3.5% that occurred before the 2008 financial crisis.
The crisis has sobered shoppers, turning them away from their previous love affair with credit card debt. Instead, families are more likely to use money they saved or layaway. In fact, 43.4% will use debit cards, 25.2% will use cash, and 2.8% will use a check. Only 28.7% will whip out the plastic to pay for holiday shopping.
What Shoppers SpendThe NRF poll revealed that, on average, each shopper said they expected to spend $741 in 2012. If it's anything like last year, they will probably spend more In 2011, they said they'd expect to spend $704, but actually spent $740 per person. They may even break the all-time high of $755 per person set in 2007. Even if the record isn't broken, it will still be more than the recessionary low of $682 per shopper set in 2009.
Most of the money ($422) will be spent on gifts for family members. The rest will be spent friends ($75), co-workers ($24), and others including pets ($28). In addition to playing Santa with presents, shoppers will celebrate the holidays by purchasing candy and food ($101), decorations ($52), greeting cards ($27), and flowers ($20.)
Shoppers are also delaying big purchases during the year to take advantage of holiday sales. Nearly two-thirds (60%) said they would also buy non-gift items for themselves and their family. They planned to spend $139.92 each to buy apparel, electronics,and household items on sales. This is up from $130 they spent on these items last year, and the $112.20 they spent in 2010.
Shift to ThriftEver since the recession, retail trends show a shift to thrift. This is not just a search for the lowest price, but also an interest in finding the best value for the price. The 2012 Black Friday survey shows the same. Nearly half (46%) said they are motivated by sales and price discounts. However, 16% said selection was most important, while 14% said was.
Shoppers head toward the retailers that meet their need for discounts and bargains. For this reason, nearly two-thirds will visit discount stores. Department stores that have learned to provide more savings through private labels will see an increase in the percentage of shoppers planning to visit them -- 57% vs. 55% in 2010. Shoppers are willing to spend time visiting a variety of retail outlets to find the best bargains. Roughly a third will visit clothing stores, or electronics stores, while half will even do their Christmas shopping in grocery stores.
Smartphones and tablets are being used much more than in the past to find those bargains. More than half(53%) of those who own smartphones, and just about two-thirds (64%) of those who own tablets, will use them to not only research, but just go ahead and purchase products online.
What kinds of gifts do people want to receive? Well over half (60%) simply want a gift card, so they can be sure they won't be disappointed with their gift. Others trust their gift-givers' taste in clothing and accessories (49%), consumer electronics (36%), and jewelry (24%).
Nearly 80% are getting a head start on their holiday shopping, with 40% starting before Halloween, and another 40% will begin before Black Friday. Another 17% will wait until the first two weeks in December, while 4% will procrastinate until right before Christmas.
The NRF reported that stores will hire between 585,000-625,000 workers, much more than the 607,000 seasonal workers they hired in 2011 and the the 495,000 workers in 2010. (Source: National Retail Federation 2012 Survey)