It wasn't exactly the Black Friday of retailers' dreams: Shoppers forked over about $1.7 billion—or 3%—less this holiday weekend, per the National Retail Federation. That figure is in spite of about 1% more people hitting the mall or Internet with their wallets open: Roughly 141 million people participated in Thursday through Sunday shopping, with the average amount each planned to spend clocking in at $407.02. That number last year, per the New York Times: $423.55. Among the reasons for the revenue drop: A much earlier start to the holiday sale season, which in some cases began in October.
So was Black Thursday a dud? Not exactly, but it took a bit of the sheen off Black Friday. The LA Times reports that 45 million people turned out for Black Thursday shopping, up 27% over last year. Stores that were open Thursday performed well, "but a lot of it was at the expense of Black Friday," says ShopperTrak's founder. Sales for the two days were up 2.3% over the same two days last year, but Black Friday revenue actually sank 13.2%. And more openings on Thursday mean more employees to pay (at holiday rates). "Thursday is going to be a tough day to make any profit," adds the founder. (Read more Black Friday stories.)