US retailers keen to keep sales momentum on Sunday

* Stores challenged to keep momentum up for Sunday

* Shoppers likely to buy online

By Martinne Geller

NEW YORK, Nov 28 (BestGrowthStock) – As U.S. retailers look to a
big finish for the holiday shopping kickoff weekend that
started with more people shopping but still spending
cautiously, they will be challenged to keep their sales
momentum up.

U.S. shoppers came out in droves on Black Friday, the day
after Thanksgiving, which marks the unofficial start of the
retail sector’s biggest selling season. Thousands of consumers
were lined up at dawn outside stores across the country, hoping
to take advantage of deep discounts on toys and electronics.
[ID:nNN2529414]

The shopping blitz naturally mellows out as the weekend
progresses, but retailers that can lure shoppers out again on
Sunday stand to ring up big gains.

“Today is the opportunity for retailers to generate some
big growth over last year,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry
analyst for NPD Group. “Last year on Sunday, you could roll a
bowling ball down the halls of the malls and not even hit
anybody, it was that quiet.”

Black Friday drew crowds to destination stores like
Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N: ), Target Corp (TGT.N: ), Sears
Holdings’ (SHLD.O: ) KMart and Best Buy Co Inc (BBY.N: ), Cohen
said.

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For a graphic on Black Friday traffic and holiday sales:

http:/r.reuters.com/dyk66q

Reuters Insider reports: [ID:nRTV166827] [ID:nRTV161989]

For other holiday retail stories [ID:nUSHOLIDAY]

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Traffic to stores on Friday rose 2.2 percent from a year
ago, according to ShopperTrak, but sales rose only a mere 0.3
percent, which shows that where shoppers made purchases, it was
often on discounted items.

On Saturday, many shoppers went to outlet stores or malls,
likely boosting sales for department stores like Macy’s Inc
(M.N: ), J.C. Penney Co Inc (JCP.N: ) and Kohls Corp. (KSS.N: )

For example, a survey of stores at the Dolphin Mall in
Miami, Florida, found that most stores saw double-digit sales
gains on Saturday, and the mall’s parking lot was still 95
percent full at 10 p.m. EST, according to the mall’s operator,
Taubman Centers Inc. (TCO.N: )

Shanell James, who was shopping on Sunday morning in
Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood at a Marshalls store operated
by TJX Cos Inc (TJX.N: ), said the weekend’s discounts were less
steep than a year ago, but also that her own finances were
improved.

“The prices went up from last year,” James said. “It
doesn’t affect me much but it will affect a lot of low-income
families.”

The average store discount was around 50 percent off on
Friday and 40 percent on Saturday, Cohen said, which is less of
a discount than last year. He said some retailers will be
offering 30 percent off on Sunday.

Still, many shoppers are expected to shop online on Sunday,
he said, getting a head-start on “Cyber Monday,” or the day
many shoppers return to work and shop online.

“Everybody wants to beat everybody to the punch these days.
It’s all about racing for space, getting that early dollar,”
Cohen said. “Look for Cyber Monday to be converted to Cyber
Sunday.”
(Additional reporting by Phil Wahba, editing by Matthew
Lewis)

US retailers keen to keep sales momentum on Sunday