Discounters, Electronics Among Big Winners So Far
Discounters, department stores and chains that sell electronics and teen fashions lured big crowds over the weekend as the holiday shopping season got off to a strong start.
Nearly 65 percent of people who shopped on Friday said one of the places they shopped was at a discount store, according to a survey by America's Research Group. That compares with 55.7 percent last year, according to the consumer-behavior marketing firm.
Noting that electronics were the big sellers over the weekend, Jefferies & Co analyst Daniel Binder said discounters such as Wal-Mart Stores, Target , Costco Wholesaleand BJ's Wholesale Club were "in the sweet spot" as high-definition televisions become cheaper and accessible to the mass market.
"I had one store manager tell me, if it had a plug on it, it did well," Binder said.
The Friday after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, nicknamed "Black Friday," is the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season and a day retailers open early with "door-buster" deals and one-day specials for early-bird shoppers.
"While Black Friday started off with lines out the door at most retailers we visited including Best Buy, Circuit City Stores and Wal-Mart, it was Best Buy that was able to bring customers in and keep them through the weekend," said Credit Suisse analyst Gary Balter.
He also said Office Depot did well since it had "some of the best laptop deals and had huge selections on flat panel displays, camcorders, computers and printers." Balter called RadioShack "a pleasant surprise," noting the presence of crowds snapping up Microsoft's Zune digital media players and GPS navigation systems.
Department stores such as Macy's ,J.C. Penney and Kohl's also did well, analysts said, citing the chains' aggressive advertising leading up to Friday and pent-up demand for cold-weather apparel items.
"While temperatures in the Northeast were unseasonably warm on Thanksgiving day, we believe the cold snap on Friday helped spur sales of children's apparel, which had been relatively weak for many retailers given the unseasonably warm weather," said Lehman Brothers analyst Robert Drbul.
Apparel and accessories chains J Crew Group , Guess , Coach, Aeropostale , Gap's Old Navy, and Abercrombie & Fitch's Hollister also saw crowds, according to Needham & Co analyst Christine Chen.
"Teen/contemporary retailers with fashion-right merchandise and strong brands enjoyed strong traffic as customers took advantage of early-bird specials or simply had to have a certain brand," Chen said.