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Early holiday shopping days provide hope

WASHINGTON -Malls and department stores were filled with good cheer-and a lot of people-this past Thanksgiving weekend.

According to the National Retail Traffic Index (NRTI), which is compiled through a partnership between the National Retail Federation and RCT Systems, more than 77.5 million people visited malls and 88.2 million people shopped department stores over the weekend of Nov. 24 to 26. This is an increase of 6.5 percent in malls and 4.1 percent in department stores for this year, according to the NRTI.

On Black Friday-the term given to the day after Thanksgiving, the first official Christmas shopping day-67.6 million shoppers, roughly 25 percent of the U.S. population, visited the nation's malls, according to the NRTI, up 9.69 percent from last year.

Consumer traffic at mall-based department stores was up 8.2 percent to 83.1 million consumers on that day, up from 76.8 million last year.

The NRTI also reported that Black Friday was the busiest shopping day of the year to date, with traffic peaking at 11 a.m. and remaining heavy until late afternoon. The busiest traffic day in 1999 was Dec. 18, the last Saturday before Christmas, with the same number of people-67.6 million shoppers-as this year's Black Friday.

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