Black Friday isn't the shopping day it used to be

Ray Murphy Jr. holds Dawson Murphy, 3, who seemed plumb tuckered out, as he shops in front of Hastings Entertainment Friday. (JC AMBERLYN/Miner)

Ray Murphy Jr. holds Dawson Murphy, 3, who seemed plumb tuckered out, as he shops in front of Hastings Entertainment Friday. (JC AMBERLYN/Miner)

KINGMAN - It's becoming more apparent each year that people would rather go online than stand in line to get a jump on Christmas shopping.

Online sales increased 16 percent on Cyber Monday, topping $3 billion, while local retailers reported slower business than usual on Black Friday, traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year.

Sales were down 10.4 percent over Black Friday weekend, according to data from ShopperTrak, a consumer group that tracks in-store purchases.

ShopperTrak estimated that shoppers spent $1 billion less on Black Friday than a year ago, largely due to the growing segment of e-commerce and retailers "successfully elongating the holiday."

Gerrika Lynch, manager of Big 5 Sporting Goods in Kingman, said a few people were waiting outside when the store opened at 5 a.m. on Black Friday, and things went pretty smoothly. They came for exercise equipment and basketball hoops.

"It was pretty on and off all day," Lynch said. "It was dead for an hour or two and then it would pick up. It was hit-and-miss, not as busy as last year."

Online sales go through Big 5 Sporting Goods corporate office, and that information is not shared with individual stores, she said.

Cyber sales

Cyber Monday had its share of advertised sales and special bargains like a Black & Decker cordless Dustbuster vacuum for $38.97 and Invicta watches starting at $44.99 on Amazon.com.

Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday was expected to drive a total of $11 billion in online sales, about 30 percent of all online sales in November, according to San Jose, Calif.-based Adobe Systems Inc.

The first 18 days of December are all expected to be $1 billion sales days.

"Cyber Monday has pushed online spending to a new high, and is on track to hit a record $3 billion in sales," said Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst at Adobe Digital Index. "Online traffic was so astronomical that several retailers experienced temporary outages and slow checkouts, but that didn't stall consumer spending."

More than 22 million people shopped at Walmart on Black Friday, according to a corporate statement, though a local clerk said sales were down about 30 percent from last year.

Walmart kicked off Black Friday with online deals at midnight. All day Thursday, shoppers were picking up last-minute Thanksgiving items.

"Then at 6 p.m. we turned on the Black Friday magic in stores," said Steve Bratspies, Walmart's chief merchandising officer. "Customers were excited about the return of one big Black Friday event. It was simple and easy to shop, and customers took advantage of offers across channels."

Black Friday shopping was integrated between Walmart stores and Walmart.com, and tens of millions of customers went online and visited stores to pick up video games, televisions, movies and toys.

The hot-selling items included televisions, iPads, laptops, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and the video game "Call of Duty."

Slow Friday

Corporate retailers may not be as forthcoming with Black Friday results, as some stores reported slower traffic.

Many shoppers purchased products online, cutting into brick-and-mortar store sales.

Stephanie Gordon, owner of Ultimate Wireless at 2404 Stockton Hill Road, advertised 50 percent off all accessories in a Black Friday "blowout sale," but made more from two phone repairs that day than from all of her product sales.

"Unfortunately, it wasn't my best Friday ever," Gordon said. "My moneymaker is repairs and batteries. Accessories make money, but not as much. I have to sell six phone cases to make what I make in one repair."

Holiday shopping used to be defined by very distinct days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

"Now it's just one big rolling sale and frankly you could have finished all your Black Friday shopping on Tuesday and Wednesday and you could have got much of Cyber Monday shopping done on Sunday," said Eric Beder, retail analyst for Wunderlich Securities.

According to the National Retail Federation's Thanksgiving Weekend Survey, more than 151 million people said they shopped either in stores or online over the weekend. Specifically, nearly 102 million people say they shopped in stores over Thanksgiving weekend, and more than 103 million say they shopped online, or 61.7 percent of weekend shoppers.

It's clear that some stores and some brands fared better than others on what's billed as the biggest shopping day of the year.

More than 25 million Walmart customers received advertisements through the retailer's online and mobile tools for Black Friday.

"We've planned this event for more than a year," Bratspies said. "Our stores were organized, well prepared and safe, and I couldn't be prouder of how our associates served our customers. Our registers were lit up and queue lines went smoothly."