The four-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend is traditionally considered the biggest shopping period of the year. To get shoppers into the mood to burn through cash, retailers cut prices dramatically. But this year, a record number of buyers made their way to malls, and instead of spending dough, they browsed.
According to the Associated Press, a record 141 million people were expected to have shopped in stores and online over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend that ended Sunday. That number is up from last year's 137 million, according to the results of a survey of shoppers conducted for The National Retail Federation.
During the recession, the retail industry offered deep discounts. Now that the economy has seen a slow incline, stores have stopped offering the drastic price reductions that customers have come to expect. The result has been less spending.
Shoppers, on average, were expected to spend $407.02 during the four days, down 3.9 percent from last year. That would be the first decline since the 2009 holiday shopping season when the economy was just coming out of the recession, AP reports.
"The economy spoke loud and clear over the past few days," Brian Sozzi, CEO and chief equities strategist at Belus Capital Advisors, told AP. "We are going to see an increase in markdowns."
Stores may have created this double-headed monster by offering bargains earlier in the season; now shoppers expect huge discounts or promotions, and if not, they aren't spending.
Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation, told AP that the survey results only represent one extended weekend in what is typically the biggest shopping period of the year, and that the combined months of November and December can account for up to 40 percent of retailers' revenue.
Shay told AP that he still expects sales for November and December to increase, but to achieve that growth, retailers will have to offer big sales events.
"It's pretty clear that in the current environment, customers expect promotions," Shay said. "Absent promotions, they're not really spending."
Read more at Associated Press.