Black Friday: Lots More Shoppers, A Bit More Dough

Looks like Black Friday -- still considered the true kickoff of the holiday season -- was a rosy one, with the National Retail Federation reporting that 212 million shoppers went to stores or Web sites over the weekend, a big jump from 195 million last year. On average, each shopper spent $365.34 over the weekend, up from last year's $343.31, with total spending reaching an estimated $45 billion.

Other estimates are more subdued. ShopperTrak reports that because of aggressively priced doorbusters and other promotions, sales on Black Friday itself increased just 0.3% versus the same period in 2009, to a record $10.69 billion in various retail locations. Friday's foot traffic increased 2.2%.

Retailers' efforts to draw shoppers in earlier were quite effective, the NRF reports, with the number of shoppers venturing out at midnight tripling to 9.5%. By 4 a.m., 24% of Black Friday shoppers were already inside the stores. With more retailers opening on Thanksgiving Day, people responded by heading to the mall instead of lounging on the couch, with 22.3 million shopping Thanksgiving Day. (Back in 2005, just 10.3 million people did so.)



The NRF says it is also encouraged by shoppers splurging on less practical gifts than in the last few recession-themed years, with 14.3% buying jewelry, up from 11.7% last year. Gift cards, toys, and books and electronic entertainment sales are also outpacing last year's results.

Traffic increased at both department stores and clothing stores. And it looks like direct channels are also doing well: QVC says it had its best Black Friday ever, with $42 million in sales. Online sales also rose a healthy 15.2%, with 33.6% shopping online this weekend.

The NRF also says it predicts that 106 million people will shop online on Nov. 29 -- Cyber Monday -- up from 96.5 million last year. The study conducted by, the NRF's e-commerce division, says hundreds of retailers have already announced one-day-only deals, percentages-off, and free shipping offers, which is expected to drive sales.

Last week, comScore forecast an 11% increase in online spending for the holiday period, with sales expected to reach $32.4 billion.

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