Black Friday Isn't Dead Yet

NEW YORK (TheStreet) - Black Friday isn't dead yet.

Shoppers preferred the in-store deals found on Black Friday versus online deals on Cyber Monday during the the 2013 holiday weekend, according to a GutCheck  survey released on Monday.

"There appears to be a conflict occurring among shoppers this holiday season," GutCheck CEO Matt Warta said in a release. "While they reported a preference for the Black Friday in-store shopping experience for the atmosphere and deals, they also simultaneously said they generally prefer online shopping for its ease and convenience. It appears that both annual events are here to stay."

GutCheck refers to itself as an "on-demand" market research firm based out of Denver that tracks real-time insights from specific niche demographics. This survey sought to understand how consumers strategized their Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping activities. To qualify for this specific study, GutCheck surveyed females celebrating Christmas who planned to shop in both in-store Black Friday events and online for Cyber Monday.

Black Friday was often viewed by shoppers as a tradition involving family and friends, with shoppers expecting to return to the same retail stores they had shopped at in years past. The major retail stores most mentioned included Macy's (M), Kohl's (KSS), Target (TGT), Wal-Mart (WMT) and Best Buy (BBY).

On the other hand, Cyber Monday was held in less emotional esteem, with shoppers focused on finding deals from large online retailers. Those who preferred Cyber Monday enjoyed the less hectic experience of shopping online and the ease of finding more in-stock items, with Amazon (AMZN) being the most popular site for deals. Popular sites mentioned included Walmart.com and Target.com as well as specialty retailers such as Ulta (ULTA) and clothing retailers including Old Navy and The Gap (GPS).

Black Friday shoppers used a variety of sources to track sales, including print ads, television commercials, e-mail and local newscasts. Cyber Monday shoppers depended more heavily on email from online retailers to alert them of sales and gift ideas. Shoppers were also are more likely to comparison-shop for deals on Cyber Monday, using multiple sites simultaneously to find the best deal on a given item, according to GutCheck.

The survey results come as last month's same-store sales results were a mixed bag on whether retailers' strong promotions and deals during the Thanksgiving and Black Friday holiday shopping days had significant positive impact.

The National Retail Federation estimates that total spending for the Thanksgiving weekend was $57.4 billion, nearly 3% lower than in 2012. Shoppers, on average, spent $407.02 or 4% less than they did last year.

On the other hand, online sales on Cyber Monday, which fell on Dec. 2 this year, set a new record of $2.29 billion, increasing 16% from 2012, according to the Adobe Digital Index 2013.

Despite heavy promotions, December sales are in a "lull," according to Retail Metrics President Ken Perkins.

"Holiday sales data are providing a series of mixed signals suggesting that overall sales may be weaker than they actually are," Perkins wrote in a Dec. 14 note.

Perkins expects December same-store sales to rise 2.9% versus 2.6% last year, in line with expectations over the last three months. However October same-store sales hit 4%, while November same-store sales slumped, rising just 1.9% -- the weakest monthly comp since March, he noted.

Fourth-quarter sales are expected to rise just 1.1%; excluding Wal-Mart, sales are expected to rise 1.5%, according to Perkins.

"There is no question that certain segments of retail are under severe stress as they fight tooth and nail for every dollar by offering steep discounts, ramping up marketing spends, expanding price matching, implementing extended layaway programs, increased spending on IT to make their omni-channel shopping experience a pleasurable one for consumers, and beefed up staffing in some instances" as big-box chains as well as specialty retailers have been feeling the pinch as consumers shift their spending habits to home and home furnishings, autos and electronics, Perkins wrote.

Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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