Black Friday weekend sales soar to new record

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Americans forked over hard-earned cash in record numbers during this year’s Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

Sales reports from last weekend’s shopping days have been released, and numbers show strong holiday purchases.

Consumer behavior changed this year, as more Americans began or ended Thanksgiving Day by embracing early Black Friday deals and visiting stores on Thursday, according to data provided by ShopperTrak, which touts itself as the world’s largest counter of retail foot traffic.

When compared to last year, retail foot traffic rose 8.2 percent, to more than 594 million store visits, the report shows. Retail sales increased 2.7 percent, with shoppers spending about $22 billion across the weekend’s four days. Thursday’s “door-buster” deals drove sales and traffic earlier in the weekend.

“Shoppers follow value. And this year, for the first time, retailers presented significant value for shopping on Thanksgiving Day,” said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder. “So even though retail sales were slightly down on Black Friday, traffic and sales for the weekend as a whole increased over 2011.”

Foot traffic also increased Monday through Wednesday before Thanksgiving, which “indicates that some retailers are turning ‘Black Friday’ into a week-long event, and more consumers are visiting stores earlier in the week,” Martin added.

During 2011, shoppers spent $21.4 billion, compared to this year’s $22 billion. Though Friday’s sales dipped a bit, both Saturday and Sunday saw foot traffic and sales increases when compared to last year.

Small businesses across the country got their holiday season off to a strong start as millions of U.S. consumers “shopped small” on Small Business Saturday and made a big impact on local communities.

Consumer awareness of Small Business Saturday jumped to 67 percent from 34 percent just two weeks ago. Of those aware, nearly half (47 percent) shopped on Small Business Saturday, according to the second installment of the Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, released earlier this week by the National Federation of Independent Business and American Express.

The increased awareness translated into higher spending. Those U.S. consumers who were aware of Small Business Saturday spent on a total of $5.5 billion with independent merchants. Pre-holiday surveys estimated that U.S. consumers would spend $5.3 billion.

“In an uncertain economy, America’s small businesses have remained a beacon—creating good jobs and supporting the families they employ and the communities around them,” says NFIB CEO Dan Danner.

“We are very pleased that so many Americans sought to give back by shopping small this Small Business Saturday. We hope that support of small firms, retailers, restaurants and other independent businesses continues throughout the holiday season and all year round. Continued support of this vital sector is one important way to ensure our economy fully recovers and a healthy private sector is restored.”

Retailers flooded consumers’ inboxes and Google searches with promises of free shipping, cyber doorbusters and buy-one-get-one deals for shopping on Cyber Monday. Discounts beckoned online shoppers everywhere, and some were too tempting to avoid.

Holiday shoppers turned Cyber Monday into the biggest spending day ever with online sales growing more than 30 percent over the same period last year, according to cloud-based analytics findings by IBM.

Internet sales jumped more than 30 percent on Cyber Monday, making it the biggest online shopping day ever, Reuters reported Tuesday.

With the lack of long lines or mad dashes to grab the season’s hottest toy, online shopping during Thanksgiving weekend has experienced huge growth over the last couple of years.

According to a recent Reuters report, had its best sales day in history, while’s Kindle sold in record numbers.

As compared to Black Friday sales, Cyber Monday took the cake with sales 36 percent higher than the long-standing Friday tradition.

“Cyber Monday was not only the pinnacle of the Thanksgiving shopping weekend but when the cash register closed it officially became the biggest online shopping day ever,” said Jay Henderson, Strategy Director, IBM Smarter Commerce.

“Retailers that adopted a smarter marketing approach to commerce were able to adjust to the shifting shopping habits of their customers, whether in-store, online or via their mobile device of choice, and fully benefit from this day and the entire holiday weekend.”

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Black Friday, Business, Christmas, Cyber Monday, Economy, Fashion, Holiday, Retail, Shopping, Small Business Saturday, Technology
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