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Black Friday lived up to the hype

Retailers had a lot to be thankful for this past weekend, as shoppers turned out in droves to harvest an abundance of bargains. If results of a consumer survey from the National Retail Federation are to be believed, 212 million shoppers visited stores and websites over the weekend compared with 195 million last year, and the average shopper spent $365 compared with $343 last year for a total retail take of roughly $45 billion. A more precise accounting of what shoppers spent will become apparent next week as retailers who report monthly sales are scheduled to do so.

“While Black Friday weekend is not always an indicator of holiday season performance, retailers should be encouraged that a focus on value and discretionary gifts has shoppers in the spirit to spend,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO.

 

NRF reached its conclusions after surveying 4,306 consumers last Thursday through Saturday, and the survey results also underscore the wisdom of the trend toward ever earlier hours of operation.

Target took the leap this year by opening stores at 4 a.m., and people responded. Nearly one fourth of those who said they shopped on Black Friday said they were already at stores by 4 a.m. And, in an indication of things to come in 2011, it appears opening at midnight is an effective means to attract customers. Nearly 10% of those who shopped on Black Friday began their excursion at midnight compared with just 3.3% the prior year.

While Target opened earlier this year, it was closed on Thanksgiving but that too may be a luxury the retailer can’t afford based on trends in evidence this year. NRF said 22.3 million people shopped in store and online on Thanksgiving Day, more than double the number in 2005.

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