More Shoppers, Less Spending During Black Friday Weekend

Retailers lured shoppers into stores, but high price tags kept people from buying

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Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

President Barack Obama, with daughters Sasha, center, and Malia, pays for his purchase the the local bookstore Politics and Prose in northwest Washington, Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013

The number of shoppers was up, but total spending was down over the long holiday weekend.

Retailers like Target and Macy’s opened their doors on Thanksgiving Day — ahead of the traditional Black Friday start to the holiday shopping season — to entice more shoppers into stores, and it worked. A record 141 million people were expected to shop in stores and online over the four-day period from Thursday through Sunday, according to a survey of 4,500 shoppers by the National Retail Federation.

But the group also predicted that spending would fall for the first time since 2006, when it started tracking such data, the Associated Press reports. A survey released Sunday showed that over the holiday weekend, spending fell an estimated 2.9% to $57.4 billion. And the average shopper was expected to spend $407.02 during their holiday shopping spree, down 3.9% from last year.

The problem was most likely pricing. “The economy spoke loud and clear over the past few days,” Brian Sozzi, CEO and chief equities strategist at Belus Capital Advisors, told the AP. “We are going to see an increase in markdowns.” The survey showed that shoppers still expect the high discounts they saw during the downturn now that the country’s in economic recovery.

But stores can still look forward to the rest of the holiday shopping season. The National Retail Federation predicts that sales for the combined months of November and December will increase 3.9% to $602.1 billion, higher than the 3.5% increase last year. That holiday revenue can account for up to 40% of retailers’ total revenue for the year.