Black Friday Weekend Sales Climb 16.4% to $52.4B

The 2011 holiday shopping season is out of the gate at a gallop: U.S. consumers spent an estimated $52.4 billion in stores and online over the Black Friday holiday weekend, outpacing the $45 billion spent during the same period in 2010 by 16.4%, according to National Retail Federation (NRF) data.

A record 226 million shoppers visited stores and websites during the holiday weekend, up from 212 million in 2010, according to a BIGresearch survey of 3,826 consumers. The average holiday shopper spent $398.62 this weekend, up 9.1% from last year's average of $365.34.

In good news for retailers, both the brick-and-mortar and e-commerce segments saw growth this past weekend, a period that is considered a leading indicator for overall holiday sales. Retail foot traffic on Black Friday itself (November 25) increased 5.1% over the same day in 2010, and sales jumped 6.6% to a record $11.4 billion, according to ShopperTrak, which provides retail and mall traffic counting services.

"This is the largest year-over-year gain in ShopperTrak's National Retail Sales Estimate for Black Friday since the 8.3% increase we saw between 2007 and 2006," said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin in a statement. "Still, it's just one day. It remains to be seen whether consumers will sustain this behavior through the holiday shopping season."

Many retailers secured their share of Black Friday foot traffic by opening their stores as early as 10 p.m. Thanksgiving night, despite push-back from some retail employees unhappy about reporting for work while still digesting turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce. NRF figures indicated that 28.7 million people shopped online and in stores on Thanksgiving Day, up from 22.2 million in 2010; 86.3 million shopped on Black Friday.

The day was also an online bonanza, scoring $816 million in online sales, a 26% increase over the same date in 2010. According to comScore, more than 50 million Americans visited online retail sites on Black Friday, and Thanksgiving Day e-commerce sales rose to $479 million, up 18% over last year.

Even the weather seemed to be promoting a holiday shopping mood. The Black Friday weekend trended the warmest in five years, with the least amount of snowfall since 1999, according to weather trending firm Planalytics. Black Friday itself had the least amount of rain in five years.

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