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More holiday shoppers out, but spend less; online sales up


New York City U.S. retail sales on Black Friday and over the weekend after Thanksgiving advanced 0.5% as discounts on electronics and toys drew budget-conscious crowds, according to the National Retail Federation. Industry analysts said it was a modest start to what many predict will be a tough season.

Although more consumers ventured out to shop over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, they spent less than last year as they hunted for bargains on toys and electronics, according to the National Retail Federation.

Spending at stores and on Web sites from Nov. 26 to Nov. 29 rose 0.5% to an estimated $41.2 billion, from $41 billion a year earlier, the NRF said, citing a survey conducted by polling firm BIGresearch. The higher turnout and lower average spending were in line with expectations, the NRF said. The group is sticking to a forecast for a 1% drop in spending this holiday season.

Thirteen percent more shoppers visited at least one department store this year, according to the NRF.

Internet spending on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, rose 11% from a year ago, to $595 million, ComScore said Sunday in a statement.

The average shopper spent $343.31 in stores and online over the holiday weekend, less than $372.57 a year ago, the NRF said, and the number of shoppers rose to 195 million from 172 million a year earlier.

“Shoppers proved this weekend that they were willing to open their wallets for a bargain,” said Tracy Mullin, president and CEO, NRF, in a statement. “While retailers are encouraged by the number of Americans who shopped over Black Friday weekend, they know they have their work cut out for them to keep people coming back through Christmas.”

Black Friday shopping at J.C. Penney stores was strong throughout the United States, the retailer said in an e-mailed statement on Nov. 28. J.C. Penney and other retailers plan to report November sales on Dec. 3.

Online sales, however, were up. Shoppers spent 35% cent more on Black Friday Web purchases than a year earlier, with the average order value reaching $170.19, according to online retail analytics company Coremetrics. Those shoppers bought an average of 5.4 items per order, up from 4.6 items last year, Coremetrics said.

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