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Three reasons a strong Black Friday weekend may not mean a blowout holiday season for retailers

By Melissa Repko

Retailers are cheering after shoppers spent big on gifts and decor in the days after they gobbled up turkey and stuffing.

But the strong showing does not necessarily mean those companies will have blowout success in their all-important holiday quarter.  . . .

But some unique factors may have driven those early sales, including wider adoption of online shopping, deeper discounting levels and cooler temperatures in many parts of the U.S. That’s raised questions about whether consumers’ appetite to spend will continue throughout the critical retail season — or taper off into a more pronounced lull between Black Friday and the final rush before Christmas.

Here’s a look at three key factors that contributed to Black Friday weekend:

Shoppers flock online

Instead of dashing to the mall after Thanksgiving dinner or lining up outside stores for doorbuster deals on Black Friday morning, more Americans are filling up shopping carts from their couches.   . . .

A hunger for deals

The desire for deals is an early and clear theme of the season.

After more than a year of paying higher prices for nearly everything including milk, gas and housing, U.S. shoppers have shown that a compelling price cut is one of the best motivators.   . . .

A well-timed cold snap

In many parts of the country, shoppers got away with postponing purchases of sweaters, hats, jackets and other cold-weather gear thanks to an unseasonably warm fall.   . . .

Colder weather over Black Friday weekend laid the groundwork for bigger sales, said Scott Bernhardt, president at Planalytics, a predictive demand and analytics company that tracks the influence of weather on retail spending. A cold snap typically motivates spending, since it puts shoppers into a holiday mood and helps their shopping list better match the seasonal merchandise that retailers have displayed in stores, he said.

Retailers may not get as lucky in the weeks ahead, Bernhardt said.

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