Spending for the Thanksgiving weekend is off 11 percent from last year, the National Retail Federation reported Sunday. Total spending was $50.9 billion with shoppers shelling out an average $380.95 each, down from $407.02 from 2013, an NRF survey indicated.
Federation CEO Matt Shay blamed the drop on early promotions and better online offerings. Black Friday still drew the largest number of shoppers, about 86.9 million, with nearly a third saying they shopped on Thanksgiving Day as well.
“A strengthening economy that changes consumers’ reliance on deep discounts, a highly competitive environment, early promotions and the ability to shop 24/7 online all contributed to the shift witnessed this weekend,” Shay said in a press release.
Holiday shoppers spent an average $159.55 online, about 41.9 percent of their total budgets. That was down more than 10 percent from last year's average $177.67.
"Every day is going to be Black Friday, every minute is going to be Cyber Monday. You can't let up for a minute because of the competitive nature that is out there," Shay told the Chicago Tribune.
The hottest items were discounted high-end apparel, televisions and toys, with 54.5 percent of in-store and online shoppers going for clothing, 32.6 percent buying toys and 34.2 percent purchasing electronics. Nearly 35 percent bought books, videos or video games while 20 percent bought home décor items, 28.1 percent bought gift cards and 15 percent bought jewelry.
"Shoppers this year have made it clear that they no longer only value deep discounts on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. They want the entire package from beginning to end -- free shipping, early promotions, convenient ways to use their mobile devices and, of course, hard-to-beat online deals,” said Pam Goodfellow, principal analyst at Prosper Insights & Analytics, which conducted the survey.
Thanksgiving weekend sales were cannibalized by retailers who pushed Black Friday deals earlier in the week and online. The Wall Street Journal reported Target offered some of its deals Wednesday while Walmart started Monday.
The NRF survey of 4,631 consumers was conducted Nov. 28-29 by Prosper Insights & Analytics and had a margin of error of 1.5 percentage points.