But while shoppers get gold stars for attendance, spending is a little soft. The National Retail Federation (NRF) spent the long Thanksgiving weekend crunching numbers--and reports that while shopping traffic was up 4.8% compared to last year, the 147 million brave American shoppers spent about $347.44, down 3.5% from last year. (Men outspent women, $393.63 to $303.95.)
"While last year showed a greater emphasis on high-definition televisions, this year consumers were focused on lower-priced door busters like digital photo frames, laptops and cashmere sweaters," the NRF says in its release. It also reports that consumers like the ever-earlier hours of Black Friday--with 14.3% of shoppers hard at it by 4 a.m., compared to 12.4% last year.
Shoppers were most likely to scoop up clothing or clothing accessories (46.8%) as well as books, CDs, DVDs, videos or video games (41.7%). With 35.7% of shoppers, consumer electronics were also popular, as were toys (28.2%), and gift cards (21%).
Based on the weekend sales, the NRF says it continues to project that holiday sales will rise 4% this year to $474.5 billion.
Those promising figures mesh with the national retail sales estimate from ShopperTrak RCT Corp., which reports a preliminary sales estimate of $10.3 billion. Black Friday, the company says, typically counts for between 4.5% and 5% of all holiday sales.
Next, all eyes are focusing on what happens today, as CyberMonday assumes more and more importance each year. comScore, Inc. is predicting today's spending will pass $700 million, making it the biggest spending day in online commerce history.
In the first 23 days of November, comScore reports, shoppers have already spent more than $9.3 billion--a 17% gain from the same period a year ago. Fueled by steady teasers from retailers, online retail spending was strong on both Thanksgiving Day (up 29%, to $272 million) and Black Friday (up 22%, to $531 million).
The hottest category, comScore reports, is still video games, consoles and accessories--up 134% versus the corresponding days last year, thanks to sales of Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3 and "Halo 3." Furniture, appliances and equipment sales are up 36%, while electronics are selling at a 21% higher rate than last year.
The NRF is predicting that 72 million Americans will spend part of today shopping, up from 61 million last year--a total of 31.9% of all adults.
Meanwhile, don't expect much from your co-workers today: BJ'S Wholesale Club predicts that 46% of working Americans expect to shop for bargains today at work. About one half admit they do all their online shopping at work, while 13% confess that they have shopped online during a conference call.