Projected holiday sales gain cut after weaker Thanksgiving weekend showing – MarketWatch

 In Business
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Shoppers in New York City were out on Black Friday to take advantage of promotions

Lighter-than-expected Thanksgiving-weekend traffic and heavy promotions prompted analysts at BTIG to revise down their forecasts for the holiday shopping season, and they now expect a 1.7% rise in comparable sales to a year earlier, down from the 2% increase they previously expected.

The National Retail Federation said Sunday that deals lured more than 154 million shoppers over the four-day stretch, up from 151 million last year, though the average spend was down slightly to $289.19 from $299.60 last year.

By comparison, the International Council of Shopping Centers estimates that the average spend on Thanksgiving and Black Friday was $373, with more than 75% of Americans spending the same or more this year as last year.

See also: Target sells 3,200 televisions per minute in the first hour of opening on Thanksgiving

Black Friday: Malls vs. Online Shopping

Black Friday and the holiday shopping season are “make or break” for many mall owners and brick-and-mortar stores nationwide as more consumers choose to shop online. Stephen Lebovitz, CEO of CBL, which owns 73 malls in the U.S., and which chose to close its doors for Thanksgiving, explains what retailers must do to remain competitive on Lunch Break with Tanya Rivero. Photo: AP

“At the stores we visited on Black Friday, traffic was very brisk with parking lots full at Best Buy, Walmart and numerous other retailers in the early hours, but we believe traffic primarily consisted of bargain hunters and deal-seeking shoppers,” BTIG wrote in a note published Monday.

Another firm, ShopperTrak, estimates that traffic on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday declined a combined 1% compared to last year.

Analysts expect traffic to taper off until Dec. 10. There are eight of 10 major shopping days left to the holiday season, according to ShopperTrak, with Super Saturday on Dec. 17 and Christmas Eve falling on a Saturday this year.

See also: Amazon’s stock drop on Cyber Monday is not unusual

BTIG estimated that the four-day shopping weekend will account for 18% to 21% of total holiday-2016 sales.

BTIG noted that its coverage is weighted toward home-furnishings retailers, comprising 21% of its universe.

However, BTIG analysts aren’t the only ones to highlight the impact of the promotional environment.

“We believe Black Friday/holiday winners are those that don’t have to participate in Black Friday promotions, including Ulta, Lululemon, and the off-pricers,” wrote Instinet analysts in a note published Monday.

See also: More shopped online than in stores over Thanksgiving weekend

Off-price retailers include companies like TJX Cos.

TJX, -0.74%

  and Burlington Stores Inc.

BURL, -1.70%

  Instinet believes L Brands Inc.

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