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Local retailers say Black Friday weekend purchases were up this year, but did not see the 13 percent increase the National Retail Federation said was the average for stores when compared to the same time last year. The NRF performs a survey following the five-day shopping period that starts on Thanksgiving and ends after Cyber Monday.
“Our revenue was very comparable (to 2011), slightly up for our store,” said Steve Morgan, the store manager for Shopko in Monticello. “Nothing mind-blowing, but it was in the range of what we wanted.”
Kim Schneider, the owner of Petals and Porch Posts in Bement also said buying was more brisk, but pegs it to what she estimates as a 10 percent increase in buying throughout the year.
“We were better last week, but generally speaking, the entire has been better,” added Schneider.
The NRF study estimated that 247 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend and spent an average of $423 each, up from $398 last year.
But the increase could be partially due to the fact there were more hours to shop. An estimated 10 percent of shoppers arrived at stores as early as 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving. In prior years most establishments did not cross the midnight-barrier that had kept shopping frenzies out of stores until at least the morning after Thanksgiving. The extended hours led tp 28 percent of those venturing out shopping by midnight, compared to 24 percent in 2011.
Monticello Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sue Gortner feels local shopping is up from last year.
“What I have heard has been good. There seems to be more people in town and more buying,” said Gortner, who said the Chamber put up billboards in Monticello and Champaign and spent money on television spots to try to lure shoppers.
People are also shopping online more and more each year. Nationally, the average person spent $172 online over the weekend – just over 40 percent of their weekend budgets and up from 38 percent from last year.
Morgan could tell Cyber Monday was big this year.
“That was one of the loneliest days I’ve had here,” said the local Shopko manager.
Peter Gill, communications director for the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, said there is a cautious optimism concerning the 2012 holiday shopping season.
“People are excited about it,” said Gill after the survey numbers were released. He attributes the increase in the opening weekend to “people feeling a little more comfortable spending money, and at the same time being careful enough they want to save” through the Black Friday discounts.
Susan Chumbley, manager of There’s No Place Like Home in Monticello, who thinks her store that includes eight different vendors is somewhat of a “store of the future” since it includes items such as gently used clothing.
“People just don’t have the money they used to. They’re looking to save money,” said Chumbley, adding the downtown establishment has gotten solid business since opening in late August.
Gill said that although people are still careful, it looks like the 2012 holiday season will be a solid one for retailers.
“It’s a good start, there’s momentum, and there is a long holiday season,” added Gill.
More results from the National Retail Federation survey:
• The most-bought items were clothing (57 percent of shoppers bought a clothing item), followed by toys (34.6 percent), books, CD’s, DVD’s and video games (39.8 percent), electronics (37.7 percent), and jewelry (15.2 percent).
• Nearly one-third of shoppers (32.6 percent) bought gift cards over the weekend, well above the 23.1 percent of 2011.
• Department stores were the most common type visited over the first holiday weekend (48.7 percent), followed by discount stores (39.4 percent), clothing stores (29 percent), electronics (33 percent), grocery (21.7 percent) and drug stores (12.7 percent).