US Black Friday sales fall 11% on sluggish demand

Man putting large TV into car Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption US retailers started offering deals well in advance of Black Friday, in addition to opening earlier on Thursday

US retailers reported sluggish Black Friday spending, with sales falling 11% from the same period last year, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

US consumers spent on average $380.95 per person, down 6.4% from a year ago.

Overall, total holiday weekend sales were estimated to be $50.9bn.

The NRF attributed the decline to shifting consumer habits, such as earlier promotions and the growth of online shopping.

"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," said NRF president and chief executive Matthew Shay in a statement.

Once more, retailers chose to open earlier on Thanksgiving Thursday in the hope of luring in more shoppers, with Wal-Mart, Target, Macy's and others offering special promotions for those first through the door.

However, those deals and earlier hours appear not to have convinced shoppers to spend, perhaps because they expect further deals as the holiday shopping period progresses.

The decline in sales surprised many, who had seen increasingly positive US economic data as well as lower gas prices as signs that the US holiday shopping season would be better than it has been in the past.

Last week, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis revised its initial estimate of third-quarter US economic growth upwards.

The figures showed the US economy expanded at an annualised rate of 3.9% between July and September, up from the 3.5% first estimated.

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