Black Friday weekend spending drop pressures U.S. profit

E-Commerce Gains

Amazon.com Inc. was the most-visited online retailer on Black Friday from home and work desktop computers, followed by EBay Inc. and Wal-Mart’s site, ComScore said.

Target said it had twice as many online orders early on Thanksgiving morning as a year ago. Amazon.com lured shoppers by offering discounts as often as every 10 minutes during the holiday week.

While traffic at the Mall of America was higher than last year, shoppers planned ahead of time where they were going and what they were buying, said Maureen Bausch, the mall’s executive vice president. There was “a lot of mission shopping, and you don’t normally see that until later in the season,” she said.

That’s bad news for retailers, who normally get about 20% of their holiday sales from impulse purchases, said Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst for NPD Group Inc.

Thom Blischok, chief retail strategist with Booz & Co. in San Francisco, said every one of the 300 shoppers he spoke with on Thanksgiving and Friday had a list.

‘No Browsing’

“They had an absolute plan,” said Blischok, who hit malls and shopping strips around Paradise Valley, Arizona. “I found virtually no browsing.”

That doesn’t bode well for the rest of the year as retailers will now pour on the discounts in an attempt to entice shoppers to keep spending, according to Pam Goodfellow, a director at Prosper Insights & Analytics, the research firm that did the survey for the NRF.

“December will be a hugely promotional month to get those remaining shopping dollars out there,” Goodfellow said on a conference call with reporters yesterday to discuss the survey results. “Retailers will be very aggressive.”

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