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Americans splurged this Black Friday

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 28th, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In spite of high unemployment and general economic doldrums, many Americans splurged this past Black Friday. Many customers saved up money and then braved cold temperatures to take advantage of the many sales offered by retailers this post-Thanksgiving, start of Christmas season rush.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A record 226 million shoppers visited stores and Web sites during the four-day holiday weekend starting on Thursday. It was a significant increase over the 212 million last year. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spent more this year as well. The average holiday shopper spent $398.62 over the weekend, up from $365.34 a year ago.

"We've saved for Christmas and put away money all year," one shopper said. "We stayed within our means so we can make a few splurges."

The heavy cash registers indicated that many retailers' sales strategies had worked.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and J.C. Penney have been making a stronger push online to better compete with the likes of rival Amazon.com. Major chains such as Macy's, Target, and Best Buy all extended the traditional start to the shopping season by opening their doors at midnight in lieu of opening up early on Fridays of past Christmas seasons.

Now, the nation's retailers must hold on to shoppers' attention throughout the remainder of the season, which can account for 25 to 40 percent of a merchant's annual revenue. Americans are highly aware of deep discounting and they're more conscious of their spending budgets.

Holiday spending is expected to grow by a modest 2.8 percent to about $466 billion. Experts agree that retailers will likely have to continue to discount to get shoppers to spend.

Earlier opening hours featuring door-buster deals seemed to be what drew many shoppers in over the weekend, particularly the younger crowd.

"Black Friday has evolved from an early morning shopping activity to a late night entertainment," Ellen Davis, spokeswoman at The National Retail Federation says. "A lot of people stayed up until 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. to go shopping, and then went to bed."

The nation kept right on shopping through Friday. Mall of America, the largest mall in North America, broke its Black Friday record with about 210,000 shoppers. And

Overall, Black Friday sales were $11.4 billion, up 7 percent, or nearly $1 billion from the same day last year, according to a report by ShopperTrak, which gathers data from 25,000 outlets across the country.

It was the largest amount ever spent on that day and the biggest year-over-year increase since 2007.

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