NEW YORK (
) -- Retail stocks are rallying following what's believed to have been a record Black Friday weekend. But how much of this momentum will carry into the rest of the holiday season?
Early store openings and deep promotions led to a 6.6% jump in Black Friday sales to $11.4 billion, according to ShopperTrak.
According to the National Retail Federation, 226 million shoppers hit the stores and made online purchases over Black Friday weekend, up from 212 million last year. The average shopper spent about $400 this weekend, up from $365.34 last year. Total spending reached an estimated $52.4 billion.
Online sales stood out, with Black Friday alone posting a 26% increase to $816 million, making it the heaviest online spending day to date this year, according to comScore.
While there's no denying sales were strong over the weekend, the frenzy tapered off as the weekend progressed, perhaps more so than usual because of the midnight openings.
"The big question is how much shopping was pulled forward into November because consumers were so focused on getting deals, as seen last year," Nomura Equity Research analyst Paul Lejuez wrote in a note. "We expect a similar slowdown until we get to mid-December as consumers will now wait for new promotions to entice them to buy. This would mirror what we saw last year, as a strong Black Friday weekend last year pulled sales forward at the expense of December."
Goldman Sachs analyst Adrianne Shapira said it's still too early to tell if the midnight and Thanksgiving openings will add to overall sales or simply pulled sales forward.
Regardless, there were some clear retail winners. Here's a look at the biggest market share gainers this Black Friday weekend.
Abercrombie & Fitch
Abercrombie & Fitch
is being touted as the winner in the teen space.
The retailer lured shoppers with its 50% off promotion at namesake and Hollister stores until 9 a.m. on Black Friday, helping to create a sense of urgency. This promotion was significantly deeper than last year, and resulted in increasing market share, most likely stealing shoppers from rival
Needham analyst Christine Chen noted "insane lines" in the wee hours of Black Friday with a plethora of teens carrying Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister shopping bags.
"Traffic trailed off for the remainder of the day as both concepts moved to 40% off the entire store, but we think the morning rush was enough to put the company at least on plan for the day," FBR Capital Markets analyst Anna Andreeva wrote in a research note.
But top-line strength is expected to come at the expense of margins as it did in the third quarter.
is being awarded the Turkey leg.
The electronics retailer dropped the ball in 2010 when it came to offering compelling Black Friday promotions. But this year Best Buy's door busters were strong, driving traffic.
"Traffic and sales appeared to be up year-over-year in totality this past weekend due to a much more promotional profile in televisions, PCs and iPads," J.P. Morgan analyst Christopher Horvers wrote in a note. "While we remain skeptical on the sustainability of positive trends (and margin should remain under pressure), this past weekend was in contrast to Best Buy's miss a year ago and continues the recent momentum in the business."
Best Buy opened at midnight this year compared with its 5 a.m. opening in 2010, which Balter said was a good strategic move. The company also did a good job of securing exclusive deals, which Balter said were better than those offered by
, and with utilizing social media to offer specials.
The company was aggressive on its social media push, with the hash tag "Best Buy" trending on Twitter on Black Friday.
was a clear standout, buoyed by Victoria's Secret.
The lingerie store featured a buy one, get one at 50% off deal on bras, as well as offering a free mini Pink dog with any Pink purchase, on Black Friday. Many stores also opened early, some even at midnight, allowing the retailer to capture the early Black Friday frenzy.
"The stores were a zoo with lines to the front of the store and make-shift registers, with check-out lines over 30 minutes long and very strong conversion," analyst Jennifer Black of the firm bearing her name noted.
Victoria's Secret was able to drive significant traffic with limited promotions, as its discounting activity is planned down to last year. This is expected to benefit margins in the quarter, Stifel Nicolaus analyst Richard Jaffe noted.
It's also expected that Limited's fourth-quarter guidance will prove to be conservative, as it has been all year, Nomura Equity Research analyst Paul Lejuez said.
"Longer term, we believe Limited's domestic momentum and international growth will generate increasing top-line results as well as drive increased ROIC," Lejuez wrote in a note.
Kindle is giving the company an edge this holiday season.
The e-commerce giant reported on Monday that sales of its Kindle e-readers quadrupled from Black Friday last year. Amazon also noted that its Kindle Fire tablet is still the most popular item on its Web site since its launch in October.
Kindle is also a popular item in the 16,000 retail stores where it is sold, with
noting that the Kindle Fire was its best-selling tablet on Black Friday. Target also sells Apple's iPad and other tablet devices.
Amazon has been aggressive in its efforts to sell its digital content of books/magazines, streaming video and apps. The company is even willing to take a loss on the Fire in an effort to sell more of this content through its Prime subscription.
refused to lose on Black Friday.
The discount giant reclaimed its shoppers Thanksgiving weekend through competitive pricing, its layaway program, its price-matching strategy and earlier hours.
"We were at a Wal-Mart store in New Jersey and within a few minutes of the door opening the store inventory needed to be replenished," Janney Capital Markets analyst David Strasser noted.
Wal-Mart finally reported positive U.S. same-store sales in the third quarter after nine consecutive quarters of declines. But the company's focus on regaining traffic through lower prices is coming at the expensive of the bottom line as its third-quarter profit slipped, missing Wall Street's forecast.
"Wal-Mart as the Black Friday sales winner means everyone saw profit pressure," Goldman Sachs analyst Adrianne Shapira wrote in a note. "We believe the company did reclaim lost share but at the expense of margin for them and others."
Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.
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