Nation & World

Amazon, mass merchants win Black Friday

Malls and guns lose

Reuters

Store traffic in the United States was down 1 percent on Thanksgiving and Black Friday combined versus 2017 levels, according to ShopperTrak.
Reuters Store traffic in the United States was down 1 percent on Thanksgiving and Black Friday combined versus 2017 levels, according to ShopperTrak.

NEW YORK — The presents may not yet be wrapped and under the tree, but at least they’re in transit with a tracking number.

With spending increasingly moving online, a new set of winners emerged as the Black Friday holiday shopping weekend came to a close.

“We are seeing a fundamental shift in who’s considered winners and losers coming out of Black Friday this year,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Jennifer Bartashus said.

Prognosticators went into Thanksgiving expecting this holiday shopping season to be one of the best since the recession, possibly rivaling the boom days of the mid-2000s.

The economy is growing, gas prices are low and median wages have been rising.

But not everyone can come out on top.

WINNERS

Amazon

Gone are the days of Thanksgiving-night stampedes. Americans spent a record $7.9 billion online on Cyber Monday, up more than 19 percent from last year’s totals, making it the largest digital shopping day of all time in the United States, according to Adobe Analytics.

But mobile and desktop spending wasn’t just a Monday phenomenon. It came on top of the $3.7 billion spent on Thanksgiving Day and $6.2 billion on Black Friday itself.

Amazon.com reaped a lot of those rewards.

Mass-Merchant Retailers

Despite Amazon’s encroachment, big-box retailers still know how to pull off a dynamite Black Friday. Walmart, Best Buy and Target all kicked off holiday promotions weeks before the big weekend but still found ways to entice buyers with the Black Friday doorbusters and promotions they’ve become famous for.

“Target and Walmart seemed to do the best job of picking up toy market share,” Barclays analysts said in a note.

Best Buy was a winner in TV sales, KeyBanc analysts wrote, helped in part by its unlikely ally — Amazon, which has partnered with the nation’s biggest electronics chain to sell smart televisions embedded with Amazon’s Fire platform.

Teen, Toy Retailers

The two biggest sellers on Cyber Monday were both toys — WowWee’s Fingerlings and L.O.L. Surprise by MGA Entertainment, both of which had made Toy Insider’s Hot 20 list. Nintendo Switch came in third, though it was the No. 1 online purchase made on Thanksgiving Day itself, Adobe data show.

LOSERS

Physical Stores

Although some crowded big-box and department stores made it look like the 2000s, the overall traffic trend was down.

U.S. store traffic was down 1 percent on Thanksgiving and Black Friday combined versus 2017 levels, according to ShopperTrak.

RetailNext, which measures store traffic, found that brick-and-mortar sales during the four-day period from Thanksgiving to Sunday were down 6.6 percent.

Retailers’ Web Teams

Some legacy retailers also found their less-than-robust websites couldn’t keep up with the influx of traffic.

Home-improvement store Lowe’s temporarily showed an error message on Friday afternoon. J. Crew’s homepage went down Friday, too, with a full-page banner asking customers to “hang on a sec” amid higher than normal traffic.

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Lululemon Athletica said on Facebook late Thanksgiving that it was “working hard to get the dot com running smoothly again.” Even Walmart reported some issues amid higher than expected web traffic.

Firearms

It appears gun sales were down this holiday season. While there is no exact count of firearms sold in America, a common barometer is the bureau’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and it showed background checks down more than 10 percent on Black Friday this year.

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