Black Friday sales rise 6.6%, report says
Drawn by heavy discounts, more shoppers swarmed the malls Black Friday, spending the largest amount ever for the day after Thanksgiving.
Black Friday sales rose to $11.4 billion, a 6.6% increase over the same day last year, according ShopperTrak, a research firm that monitors sales at more than 40,000 stores and malls. That was the biggest year-over-year bump since an 8.3% surge in 2007.
"If this is an indication of what we can expect to see through the balance of the holiday season, then we should expect a good rest of the year," said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin. "Black Friday was a pretty good start."
Lured by large bargains and discounts, more shoppers came out on the day after Thanksgiving , with foot traffic rising 5.1% over last year, the research firm said.
Many shoppers were tired of the frugality they've exercised over the last few years, and were attracted into malls by heavy advertising in the weeks leading up to Black Friday, Martin said. Many retailers this year opened their doors earlier than ever -- in some cases, on Thanksgiving night.
"Even though it's still a sketchy economy, there's been a steady improvement in unemployment that gives people more confidence to buy," Martin said. "It can also be pent-up demand, sort of 'we have lived with that sweater as long as we wanted to live with it, we need a new TV, we need new things so we can feel good about ourselves.' '"
Although early signs point to a good holiday season, Martin cautioned that Black Friday is but one day out of the year. A more precise picture of the entire holiday season should form once sale figures for the entire long weekend start trickling in.
"You can't calculate the whole season just by one day," Martin said, "But if you don't have a good Black Friday, it's almost impossible to have a good holiday season."
Photo: Carolina Ahumada and her daughter Nicole Gonzalez carry their giant bags from the Disney Store along with other shoppers who flocked to South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa for Black Friday specials.
Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times