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Black Friday Weekend Sets Shopping Record

A record 247 million shoppers visited stores and websites during the weekend, up from 226 million in 2011.

The earlier start to Black Friday proved profitable for retailers.

More than 35 million Americans visited stores and websites on Thursday, up from 29 million last year, according to the National Retail Federation.  The whole weekend saw a boost, according to a NRF survey conducted by BIGinsight.

A total of 89 million headed out to crowded stores on Black Friday, up from 86 million in 2011.  A record 247 million shoppers visited stores and websites during Black Friday weekend, which includes solid numbers from Thursday through Saturday and estimates from Sunday, an increase from 226 million last year.

The average shopper spent $423 this weekend, compared to $398 last year.  Spending nationwide totaled $59.1 billion, according to a National Retail Federation news release.

“From green beans to great deals, millions of Americans found time this Thanksgiving to make the most of retailers’ promotions and enjoy a special family holiday,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay in a statement. “To keep their customers excited about holiday shopping, retailers will continue to offer attractive promotions through December, and provide strong consumer value with low prices, enhanced mobile and online offerings, and unique product assortment.”

Shoppers headed to stores earlier this year.  According to the survey, 28 percent of shoppers were at stores by midnight on Black Friday. In 2012, that figure was 24.4 percent.

Consumers also relied more on technology this year for shopping.

The average person spent $172.42 online during Black Friday weekend, which was around 40.7 percent of their total spending.  That marked an increase from 37.8 percent in 2011, according to the survey results.

More than a quarter of customers, or 27 percent, did their shopping online on Thanksgiving Day and 47.5 percent on Black Friday.

“There’s no question that millions of people were drawn to retailers’ aggressive online promotions this weekend, making sure to research and compare prices days in advance to ensure they were getting the best deal they could,” said BIGinsight Consumer Insights Director Pam Goodfellow in a statement. “However, with shopper traffic increasing at department, discount, and clothing stores over the weekend, it’s clear that consumers still recognize Black Friday as one of the biggest shopping days of the year, as they have for decades.”

The survey also covered the spending habits of consumers.

Eight out of 10 shoppers, or 79.6 percent, took advantage of slashed prices to buy non-gift items.

Of those shopping for gifts for self and others, 57.7 percent purchased clothing and clothing accessories, an increase from 51.4 percent last year.  Also on the shopping list were toys (34.6 percent), books, CDs, DVDs, and video games (39.8 percent), electronics (37.7 percent), and jewelry (15.2 percent).

Around 32 percent bought gift cards, up almost 10 percent from the 23.1 percent who did so in 2011. 

Department stores were the biggest beneficiary of Black Friday weekend.  More than half, or 53.5 percent, of consumers visited department stores, a hike from the 48.7 percent who did last year.  Shoppers also hit up discount stores (39.4 percent), clothing stores (29 percent), electronics stores (33 percent), grocery stores (21.7 percent), and drug stores (12.7 percent).

Online sales also saw an increase, do to special deals. A total of 43.8 percent of shoppers visited the websites of their favorite retailers, up from 35.2 percent last year.

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