NEW YORK (Reuters) – US shoppers have long queues at Black Friday's cash desks to take advantage of heavy discounts on clothing and electronics, providing evidence that a healthy economy and rising wages result in increased consumer spending at the start of retailers we celebrate the holiday season.
People go shopping during the Black Friday sale event at the Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, New York, United States, November 23, 2018. REUTERS / Shannon Stapleton
Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year, launches the Christmas shopping season for retailers and is followed by analysts and economists for clues on the strength of the retail and economy sectors in general.
A question addressed to investors in the last few weeks of 2018 is whether the US economy is at the end of the economic cycle, still stimulated by last year's tax cuts, but increasingly in difficulty, including the increase interest rates, a trade war with the main Chinese supplier and credit problems.
A strong and confident consumer could delay or mitigate any slowdown.
Buyers bought large items such as TV, Apple iPad and Watches in store and online at Target Corp (TGT.N), while telephones, toys, video game consoles and cookware were the best sellers of Walmart Inc (WMT.N).
Some of the offers:
– A Manhattan H & M store offered a 30% discount on everything in-store and online.
– A sign in the window of a Gap Factory store in Jackson Heights, Queens, promoted "60% discount on everything".
– Urban Outfitters offered to pay one get 50 percent of the second item at the same price or lower.
– Walmart sold a Roomba WiFi robot vacuum cleaner online or for in-store pickup for $ 100 to $ 194.
– Buy 1 Get 1 free pajamas at Victoria's Secret.
Charlotte Jackson of London comes to New York with her mother for shopping on Black Friday.
"Black Friday is not a big deal at home," said Jackson, a 27-year-old tax consultant, while shopping for lingerie and pajamas at Victoria's Secret.
Shortly before 6 am on Friday, buyers were seen slamming into the door of a Bath & Body Works in Pittsburgh's Waterfront Mall, lining up for discounted candles, soaps and lotions, while long queues formed at the cash desks of a Dick's Sporting Goods store in the mall.
But there was little evidence of the frenzied shopping frenzy typical of the Black Friday of past years, in other parts of the country, especially in the North East, where crowds were rare due to record cold.
Columbia graduates Bhavaya Shahi and Ketakee Nimavat, both 21 years old, held a night out of the Macy's store, Herald Square in New York.
"We heard there would be long lines," said Shahi, with bags in hand and hanging from his forearm. "It's more empty than we thought."
The analyst of Moody Charlie O & # 39; Shea, who was visiting stores in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, said that a slower start in stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday is not indicative of shopper's appetite during the season.
"The season should be strong and all the signs when it comes to consumer confidence are pointing to this," he said.
Sharon Neidert, 57, a software company manager, said he was visiting New York from Ohio with his daughter. They watched the Macy's Thanksgiving parade yesterday and went out in search of offers on Thursday.
"I'm spending more, the mood in general is more optimistic," he said,
Buyers spent $ 1.75 billion online by 5.00pm ET for Thanksgiving, with smartphone sales that increased overall online spending by 28.6% from a year ago, according to Adobe Analytics, which tracks of transactions in 80 of the top 100 online retailers in the United States.
"So far, so good," said Shawn Kravetz, president of Esplanade Capital, on Black Friday. "Online e-mail requests (e) (are) off the charts – they have to get up an hour before to digest and delete them".
San Francisco consumers drove the rest of the country with more than 2.3 million online transactions, followed by more than 954,000 in New York, more than 415,000 in Dallas, and 389,000 in Houston on Thursday, according to the payment processor First Data Corp (FDC.N), which collects data from about 1 million US traders.
Electronics retailers like Best Buy Co Inc (BBY.N) saw the largest number of transactions followed by department stores like Macy & # 39; s Inc (M.n), according to Adobe data.
Traditionally, the day after Thanksgiving, or Black Friday, kicks off the Christmas shopping season in the United States. But with the US stores opening on Thanksgiving night, the typical run on the Black Friday morning split.
The National Retail Federation expects US retail sales in November and December to increase between 4.3% and 4.8% in 2017 for a total of $ 717.45 billion to $ 720.89 billion . This compares with an average annual increase of 3.9 percent over the last five years.
About 38% of US consumers plan to buy Black Friday this year, and six out of 10 of these buyers plan to make at least half of their holiday purchases on that day, a Reuters / Ipsos poll showed last week.
Additional reports by Melissa Fares, Shannon Stapleton on Long Island and Chriss Swaney in Pittsburgh; Siddharth Cavale in Bangalore; Written by Nick Zieminski; editing by Patrick Graham, Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Susan Thomas