The National Retail Federation (NRF), the primary authority for tracking consumer holiday spending, said in a conference call that 2014 “Black Friday” weekend spending was down 11% compared to the previous year. Not only did fewer shoppers hit the stores, but those that came out spent less money.
The national call to #BoycottBlackFriday in response to the murder of the unarmed teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO certainly didn’t help to drive these numbers up. With African American consumer spending at $1.2 trillion per year, a shift in this consumer segments attitude would ripple across the national economy.
Executives at the National Retail Federation, which had predicted strong growth in sales this holiday season, appeared at a loss to fully explain the drop-off. A variety of additional factors were cited including the early avalanche of promotions, shoppers changing the way the view exclusive deals and even the improving economy.
But the bottom line is that 55.1 percent of consumers shopped between Thursday and Sunday, according to a survey the NRF conducted over the weekend. That is down from 58.7 percent in 2013. The NRF also said total spending was $50.9 billion, an 11 percent decline from an estimated $57.4 billion in the previous year.
This could be a bad sign for big box retailers like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Target and the like. If the Movement for more conscious consumerism continues to gain momentum it could force the NRF to restate its forecast for the overall holiday season. Matthew Shay, CEO of NRF had previously predicted 4.1 percent spending growth compared to 3.1 percent in 2013.