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NRF: Black Friday weekend spending up

Washington  - Holiday 2010 got off to a better start than last year as more consumers shopped more stores and websites and spent more money during the four-day Black Friday weekend, according to the National Retail Federation.

"With one of the biggest shopping days of the year under their belts, retailers have reason to smile," said NRF.

The NRF survey, which was conducted by consumer research firm BigResearch over this past weekend, found that the number of shoppers visiting stores and websites during the period rose 8.7% to 212 million from 195 million last year.

In addition, shoppers spent more money as opposed to holiday 2009, with the average shopper ringing $365.34 at the register, up about 5.5%.

Total spending reached an estimated $45.0 billion.

BigResearch conducted the survey from Nov. 25 to 27 and polled 4,306 consumers.

"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. "As retailers look ahead to the first few weeks of December, it will be important for them to keep momentum going with savings and incentives that holiday shoppers simply can't pass up."

To get an early start on the holiday, many retailers opened their doors "earlier than ever, and eager shoppers followed suit," NRF said.

The survey showed the number of shoppers who began their Black Friday at midnight tripled this year to 9.5% from 3.3% last year. In fact, by 4 a.m. nearly one-fourth (24.0%) of Black Friday shoppers were already at the stores.

"Thanksgiving Day openings have also been a boon to the industry," NRF continued, as the number of people who shopped on Thanksgiving Day - both online and in stores - doubled over the past five years to 22.3 million from 10.3 million in 2005.

Practicality seemed less important last weekend compared to 2009. Shoppers traded last year's blue jeans and coffeemakers for more discretionary gifts this year - as the number of shoppers who bought jewelry rose substantially to 14.3% from 11.7% in 2009's Black Friday weekend.

Additionally, more people purchased gift cards, toys, and books and electronic entertainment than a year ago. The number of people buying home décor and home furnishings was flat, according to the survey.

"It's certainly encouraging to see an increase in traffic and sales from the four-day holiday weekend, however, consumers still have concerns about the economy, jobs, and paying down debt," said Phil Rist, evp, BigResearch. "It was the consumers' search for deals and bargains that drove the weekend traffic rather than their confidence in the economy."

Another shift was that value became the priority over lowest price, as the survey demonstrated. Both department stores (52.0% this year vs. 49.4% last year) and clothing stores (24.4% vs. 22.9%) saw healthy increases in traffic, while the percentage of people who shopped at discounters declined 7.2%, from 43.2% percent last year to 40.3% this year.

Also up was the percentage of people who shopped online this weekend - increasing 15.2%, to 33.6% from 28.5%.


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