Retailers Enjoy Strong Start to Holiday Shopping Season


Sean Gallup/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Holiday sales got off to a strong start for retailers over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, with an estimated $59.1 billion in sales — up almost $7 billion from last year — according to a survey by the National Retail Federation.

The retail trade association reports a record 247 million shoppers visited stores and websites over the holiday weekend, up from 226 million in 2011.  The average holiday shopper spent $423 this past weekend, up from $398 last year.

Turkeys were the obvious losers on Thanksgiving Day, but retailers were the winners.  The trade report says more than 35 million Americans visited retailers’ stores and websites on Thursday, up from 29 million last year.

And surprising news for those who thought that with more retailers open on Thanksgiving Day and more bargains online, Black Friday might diminish in importance.  The survey found that some 89 million shoppers hit the malls and the Internet on Black Friday, up from 86 million in 2011.  According to the survey, 28 percent of shoppers were at stores by midnight on Black Friday, compared to 24.4 percent last year.

More than one quarter of shoppers said they shopped online on Thanksgiving Day, and nearly half did so on Black Friday.  According to the survey, the average person spent $172.42 online over the holiday weekend.

The National Retail Federation says shoppers are more conscious of how they’re spending their money, with two out of three people opting to use cash or debit instead of credit cards.

Fifty-eight percent purchased clothing and clothing accessories over the weekend, up from 51.4 percent last year.  Almost 33 percent of shoppers bought gift cards over the weekend, up nearly 10 percentage points.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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