By Michelle Graff
New York-- While Black Friday weekend sales figures don’t tell the whole story of the holiday season, the data culled from a three-day span of shopping does lend some insight into when, where and how consumers are spending their money.

In a story published last Wednesday on, analyst Ben Silver’s website, economics writer Ben Casselman argued that the data that emerges about sales over Black Friday weekend is unreliable and that the weekend itself is no real indication of how much consumers are going to spend for the duration of the holiday season.

He also pointed out in his piece that shopping patterns have changed significantly in recent years, making consumer behavior harder to understand and, thereby, predict.

None of this should come as news to jewelers, who are well aware of the changing nature of retail and for whom Black Friday never has been the big make-it-or-break-it weekend anyway.

Jewelers have long told National Jeweler that the weekend after Thanksgiving is a time for consumers to hit up the big-box stores although some, including Northeastern Fine Jewelers and Lily & David Fine Jewelry in Saratoga, N.Y., have begun offering Black Friday deals in the past few years.

There are, however, several takeaways for retailers from the weekend as the U.S. heads into the heart of the holiday shopping season.

1. Online sales are continuing to grow. Online analytics firm comScore reported that e-commerce retail sales on Thanksgiving Day were up 9 percent year-over-year, and Black Friday sales rose 10 percent.

So far this holiday season (Nov. 1 to 27), online retail sales are up 5 percent year-over-year to $23.45 billion, comScore reported.

E-commerce is continuing to change the retail landscape, particularly as it gets easier to shop online.  The National Retail Federation reported that 57 percent of both smartphone and tablet owners used their devices to shop over the weekend.

In the post-Black Friday news release, Pam Goodfellow, the principal analyst for Prosper, the company that conducts the NRF’s surveys, observed that “The ease of online shopping through mobile devices now lets millions of people research what they want as well as make timely purchases any day of the weekend.”

2. Consumers are spreading out their spending. The general consensus from the holiday weekend seems to be that online sales outperformed in-store sales, though even online sales reportedly fell short of expectations too. 

ComScore Chairman Emeritus Gian Fulgoni noted that e-commerce wise, the season opened “a little softer than anticipated.”

So does that mean consumers aren’t in the mood to shop at all this holiday season? The answer is it’s too early to tell.

As observed above, this past weekend is not necessarily an indicator of how the holiday season is going to go. Today’s budget-conscious consumers tend to spend money both early and late in order to spread out the season’s impact on their wallets.

3. Retailers of all types are embracing “Cyber Monday.” Cyber Monday is the name given to the Monday following Black Friday weekend, which tends to be a big day for online deals and sales. ComScore predicts that U.S. consumers will spend more than $2.5 billion from their desktop computers alone today.

People will “return to their work computers after Thanksgiving weekend and use some of their down time to continue their holiday gift buying, but without other family members looking over their shoulders,” Fulgoni said.

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Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.