NRF: Black Friday Shoppers Deliver Strong Sales

With about three weeks to go before Christmas and Hanukkah, consumers finally dusted off their wallets and hit the stores—and sites—on Black Friday weekend.

According to the National Retail Federation’s 2008 Black Friday Weekend survey, conducted by BIGresearch, more than 172 million shoppers visited stores and Websites during the long post-Thanksgiving holiday weekend. That’s up from 147 million shoppers last year.

Shoppers spent an average of $372.57 over the weekend, a 7.2% increase over last year’s $347.55. (Data includes Thursday, Friday, Saturday and projected spending for Sunday.) Total spending reached an estimated $41 billion.

The aggressive holiday promotions retailers dangled to consumers evidently paid off. “Pent-up demand on electronics and clothing, plus unparalleled bargains on this season’s hottest items helped drive shopping all weekend,” said NRF president/CEO Tracy Mullin in a statement.

“Holiday sales are not expected to continue at this brisk pace, but it is encouraging that Americans seem excited to go shopping again,” Mullin added.

Many shoppers (50.9%) bought apparel and accessories over the weekend while 39% snapped up books, DVDs, CDs and video games, and 35.9% purchased consumer electronics. And nearly a third of shoppers surveyed (28.5%) said they bought a toy.

Gift-card purchasing fell 10% with 18.7% of shoppers purchasing a gift card over the weekend, down from 21% last year.

“Though retailers should be encouraged by strong traffic and sales over the weekend, consumers are still being cautious,” said Phil Rist, executive vice president, strategic initiatives, for BIGresearch. “Weekend shoppers indicated that they are still sticking to a budget and thinking carefully before making any holiday purchases.”

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