This year’s Black Friday shopping extravaganza was full of contradictions and surprises.
Stores such as Target, Walmart and Best Buy are reported to have drawn a record number of people on Friday (and Thursday), only to be disappointed by less-than-stellar sales numbers.
"The economy spoke loud and clear over the past few days," Brian Sozzi, CEO and chief equities strategist at Belus Capital Advisors, told The Associated Press’ Anne D'innocenzio.
Overall sales numbers weren’t the only surprise this year.
Take InfoScout's informal report of Walmart’s most purchased items on Black Friday. According to its count, 18 out of the top 20 items purchased there were electronics (although other outlets have reported that towels take the top spot, InfoScout's metrics don't seem to include them in their ranking). Those 18 electronics account for 22.8 percent of all items bought at Walmart that day.
Because Walmart drew in roughly 50 percent more Black Friday shoppers this year than any other retailer, it’s reasonable to assume that Walmart’s reports indicate larger shopping trends.
That’s certainly the case with sales of Sony’s newest game console, the Playstation 4. Even though the PS4 was only released two-weeks before the biggest shopping day of the year, its sales were not only beat out by the Xbox One (in America, anyway), but also by its own previous incarnation, the PlayStation 3.
Microsoft saw a surprise of its own — a more positive one — with InfoScout reporting sales of the new Xbox One accounting for 1.2 percent of all purchases at Walmart. Combined with the equally stellar sales of the Xbox 360 (which took up .8 percent of all sales, according to the statistics aggregator website), Microsoft’s game consoles totaled an even 2 percent of all Black Friday sales at Walmarts across the nation.
When InfoScout combined statistics for both Walmart and Target, Xbox consoles accounted for 61 percent of all consoles sold last Friday. Playstation only accounted for 30 percent.
It's important to remember, however, that InfoScout’s numbers have not gone without dispute. Tracking sales numbers, especially in such a short amount of time, is no easy task and is subject to error.
Either way, the statistics show that product developers as well as retail store managers can’t always predict how, where and what people will buy.