Black Friday brought in 151M, most online: NRF survey

Black Friday deals can still pull in shoppers—both online and in stores.

The Thanksgiving weekend saw more than 151 million bargain hungry consumers open up their wallets to make purchases either on the Internet or in physical stores, the National Retail Federation said on Sunday. This year, the NRF changed its methodology to reflect changes to shopping and retail trends, which make year over year comparisons difficult.

The NRF's sentiment survey, which are not based on actual retailer's results, said the number of people shopping exceeded their mid-November survey, when the organization estimated 136 million would shop over Thanksgiving weekend.

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The NRF's results also underscored the growing power of the Internet. The number of people who shopped online--more than 103 million, according to the organization--edged out the nearly 102 million who opted for in-store deals. The average spending per person over the weekend totaled nearly $300, and most shoppers were under the age of 35.

"It is clear that the age-old holiday tradition of heading out to stores with family and friends is now equally matched in the new tradition of looking online for holiday savings opportunities," ," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.

According to Shay, 42 percent of shoppers that said they shopped online, while nearly 52 percent shopped either in store, online or both. Black Friday spending has evolved because of early sales, he added.


Evidence is mounting that consumers are gravitating toward mobile to avoid what retail tracking firm ShopperTrak noted was a "social stigma" associated with Black Friday. Meanwhile, a growing number of retailers are offering deals in advance of Thanksgiving, and shoppers are taking advantage of those—thus depriving the two day shopping extravaganza of some of its importance.

On Saturday, ShopperTrak's preliminary figures estimated combined retail sales of $12.1 billion over Thanksgiving and Black Friday, a projected decrease from the comparable year-ago period. The firm added that Thanksgiving Day grossed just shy of $2 billion, while Black Friday pulled in more than $10 billion.

Separately, data from analytics firm RetailNext showed overall sales for both days fell 1.5 percent as customer traffic flattened, pushing down average spending per shopper by 1.4 percent.

--CNBC's Courtney Reagan contributed to this story.