Black Friday Weekend Sees Sales Approach $28 Billion

WASHINGTON -- Shoppers flooded stores and the Internet over the long Thanksgiving weekend, hunting for popular electronics, clothing, and books, and driving sales of $27.8 billion, according to an NRF survey conducted by BIGresearch. The total figure was an impressive 21.9 percent increase over last year's $22.8 billion.

The average shopper spent $302.81 over the weekend, according to the survey. Discounts and special sales seemed to be a key driver.

"As expected, retailers offered substantial discounts and savings on Black Friday to bring people into their stores, and consumers held up their end of the bargain by going shopping," said NRF president and c.e.o. Tracy Mullin in a statement. "Even though many retailers saw strong sales this past weekend, companies will not be basking in their success. Stores are already warming up for the next four weeks because the holiday season is far from over."

More than 60 million shoppers headed to the stores on Black Friday, an increase of 7.9 percent over last year. Another 52.8 million shopped on Saturday, a rise of 13.3 percent over 2004. The number of shoppers out yesterday was expected to be close to last year, with about 22 million people shopping.

Consumers were shopping for a variety of merchandise this weekend. According to the survey, 49.2 percent of consumers purchased clothing or clothing accessories, while 46.7 percent bought books, CDs, DVDs, videos, and video games. The electronics category saw the largest year-over-year jump, with 36.7 percent of shoppers buying in that category, up from 31.2 percent a year ago.

"By offering incredible discounts, retailers were able to bring consumers to the stores who otherwise would have stayed in bed," said Phil Rist, v.p. of strategy for BIGresearch. "The deals were so enticing that many consumers abandoned their shopping lists and started buying for themselves."

A variety of retailers benefited from seasonably cool weather and heavy discounting this weekend. According to the survey, the majority of shoppers headed to discounters (60.7 percent), though department stores (47.0 percent) and specialty stores (41.2 percent) also saw strong traffic. As expected, online retailers also had a solid weekend, with nearly one in three consumers (27.4 percent) choosing to do some of their holiday shopping over the Internet.

NRF continues to project that holiday sales will rise 6.0 percent this year, to $439.5 billion.
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