Even though Thanksgiving came early this year, big box retailers, national chains, and online sellers began the Christmas season even earlier. Like last year, Amazon launched its Black Friday specials the week before Thanksgiving, Wal-Mart opened on Thanksgiving, and other retailers moved to Thursday night openings, including Target, Macy's, and Toys R Us.
On the independent side, the American Booksellers Association offered members a holiday boost with the introduction of the Thanks for Shopping Indie program, which gave participating stores an extra discount on a selection of titles from 20 publishers so that they could pass along savings on American Express's third annual Small Business Saturday. Kobo, too, gave booksellers an opportunity to discount Minis on SBS weekend.
Whether early starts and discounting will give a strong finish to 2012 is still a question mark, especially given last year's high figures at many bookstores due to Borders's liquidation. In addition, many indies who participated in the Thanks program, which went through this past weekend, displayed the books but didn't offer any discounts. Others like Eight Cousins in Falmouth, Mass., gave customers a $1 thank-you coupon for each book purchased; Octavia Books in New Orleans provided a free book lover's calendar.
Consumers were shopping, according to a National Retail Federation survey conducted by GIBinsight. More than 35 million people visited stores and e-tailing sites on Thanksgiving Day, up from 29 million last year, while 89 million shoppers went to bricks-and-mortar stores on Friday, up from 86 million. Over the weekend, holiday shoppers spent an average of $423, up from $398 in 2011, and nearly 40% purchased books, CDs, DVDs, videos, and video games, the second highest category after clothing. Total spending over the weekend reached an estimated $59.1 billion. Nielsen BookScan data fills in more specifics on the book industry, where the number of book units for Thanksgiving week rose more than 3%, with all regions of the country showing gains.
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SOURCE: Publishers Weekly