NORMAN — Millions of Americans turned out as the holiday buying season started earlier this year on Thanksgiving Day. But there’s still a lot of shopping left.
While figures aren’t yet available on how many people shopped on the first two days of the holiday shopping season, crowds came early and often as more than a dozen major U.S. retailers stayed open for 24 hours or more on Thanksgiving through the day after known as Black Friday.
But overall, The National Retail Federation predicts that 140 million shoppers planned to shop during the four-day holiday weekend that began on Thanksgiving Day. And of those, about 23 percent, or 33 million shoppers, planned to do so on the actual holiday.
So the challenge for retailers is to keep the momentum going through the weekend — and beyond. In years past, stores have had a robust start to the season by offering deep discounts only to see crowds disappear until the final days before
Christmas when the big bargains pop up again.
Overall, the retail trade group expects retail sales to be up 3.9 percent to $602 billion during the last two months of the year. That’s higher than last year’s 3.5 percent growth, but below the 6 percent pace seen before the recession. And retail experts said it’s going to be difficult for stores to get shoppers to keep coming back into stores without bargains.
“Can stores continue the momentum after a promotional November?” said Laura Gurski,a partner and global leader of the consumer product & retail practice at A.T. Kearney, a global management consultancy. “How do you top it in December?”
Despite that there is a lot of the holiday shopping season left, this year may cement the transformation of the start of the holiday shopping season into a two-day affair.