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NRF: Retail Sales Up Over Thanksgiving Weekend


Washington D.C. Concerns about the dismal economy and job cuts didn’t keep consumers from shopping over the Thanksgiving weekend. According to the National Retail Federation's (NRF) 2008 Black Friday Weekend survey, conducted by BIGresearch, more than 172 million shoppers visited stores and Web sites over Black Friday weekend, up from 147 million shoppers last year.

Attracted by deep price cuts and other promotions, shoppers hit the nation’s shopping malls in droves, spending an average of $372.57 this weekend, up 7.2% from last year’s $347.55. Total spending reached an estimated $41.0 billion. (Spending data includes Thursday, Friday, Saturday and projected spending for Sunday.)

Friday was the busiest day of the weekend with 73.6 million people hitting stores and Web sites for doorbuster sales. The survey found that 23.3% of shoppers were at stores by 5 a.m. while more than half (57.6%) were at stores by 9 a.m.

Though traffic did subside after Friday, retailers were also buoyed by two-day sales as 56.9 million people shopped on Saturday, up from 48.3 million last year, while another 26.2 million people planned to shop on Sunday.

Thanksgiving Day also continues to increase in importance as the number of people who shopped on Thursday was up 48% over last year (16.2 million people vs. 10.9 million people).

Though retailers should be encouraged by strong traffic and sales over the weekend, consumers are still being cautious," said Phil Rist, executive VP, Strategic Initiatives, BIGresearch. "Weekend shoppers indicated that they are still sticking to a budget and thinking carefully before making any holiday purchases."

Discount stores were the favored shopping outlet over the holiday weekend. According to the survey, more than half (54.7%) of this weekend’s shoppers visited discount stores. Nearly half (43.0%) shopped at a traditional department store, up 11.1% from 38.7% last year. About one-third of shoppers visited specialty stores such as clothing or electronics stores (36.0%).

As expected, many shoppers (50.9%) purchased clothing and accessories over the weekend while 39.0% bought books, DVDs, CDs and video games and 35.9% purchased consumer electronics.

Toys were also big sellers, as 28.5% of shoppers bought a toy. Gift-card purchasing dropped 10% with 18.7% of shoppers purchasing a gift card over the weekend, down from 21.0% last year.

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