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Retail roundup: Black Friday edition [Updated]

November 27, 2010 | 10:24 am

After round-the-clock sales, fights and hordes of frenzied shoppers, Black Friday is finally over.Toysrusblackfriday

So how did retailers fare? By early accounts, pretty well.

[Updated at 2:20 p.m.:

-- It was a record day for spending, with consumers buying $10.69 billion worth of merchandise at brick-and-mortar stores, a 0.3% rise over last year, according to ShopperTrak RCT Corp., a research firm that monitors spending at more than 50,000 retail stores. Foot traffic was up 2.2%.

Although the sales increase -- which does not include online spending -- was not as strong as many industry watchers had expected, ShopperTrak noted that earlier-than-ever deals this year drove many shoppers to the malls well before Black Friday.

That meant some unexpected strength in early November that may have thinned business on the day after Thanksgiving: Sales and traffic for the first two weeks of the month through Nov. 13 increased 6.1% and 6.2%, respectively, versus the same two weeks in 2009, ShopperTrak said.

"The early weeks in November were really strong, so the fact we still had an increase on Black Friday, I think that sets us up for a pretty good holiday season," said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder.

Martin added that retailers also focused this year on pushing more deals online, which drove millions of shoppers to retail websites on Black Friday.]

-- Not surprisingly, that meant retailers saw huge gains online.

Online retail sales on Black Friday rose 15.9% in the U.S., with consumers pushing the average order value to $190.80 from $170.19, according to Coremetrics, an IBM company. The luxury sector continued its comeback, with jewelry retailers reporting a 17.6% increase in sales.

Consumers were also very savvy about what they wanted and where they wanted to get it. Shoppers viewed 18% fewer products on sites than they did last year, suggesting that they were shopping with a specific item in mind and quickly moving on, Coremetrics said.

"On Black Friday, consumers came, they clicked and they shopped their way across the Internet, and this time, they weren't just looking for bargains," said John Squire, chief strategy officer at Coremetrics. "Consequently, we're watching online retail, and increasingly social media and mobile, become the growth engines for retailers everywhere."

[Updated at 2:20 p.m:

-- PayPal, too, said its findings suggested that Black Friday shoppers swarmed online for convenience and deals. The company reported a 27% increase in total payment volume and a 310% increase in mobile shopping on the day after Thanksgiving compared with the same day last year.]

-- On Black Friday, the conversion rate -- or the number of shoppers who actually purchased something -- was up 4% over last year on the same day, according to findings by market research firm NPD Group.

"To see growth of 4% over the year before tells us two big things,” NPD Group Chief Industry Analyst Marshal Cohen said. "One, is that those people that went to shop, bought; and two, is that the retailers did a better job of luring consumers in with big deals and great savings."

In another good sign, NPD found that 33% of consumers bought for themselves on Black Friday, compared with 26% in a "normal" holiday period.

-- In its post-Black Friday statement released Saturday, JCPenney said traffic was strong across all areas of the country and on www.jcp.com. Top sellers included fashion boots, handbags and bedding items such as down comforters and microplush blankets.

"Across the country, consumers appear to be more eager to shop than the last couple of years," Chief Executive Myron E. Ullman III said. "Our strategy of offering stylish gifts at sharp prices is resonating with shoppers. We have also seen a greater interest in aspirational purchases as well as a return to 'self-gifting,' which had not been evident over the past two years. Overall, we're encouraged by the early trends we are seeing."

-- Andrea Chang

Photo: Black Friday shoppers at a Toys R Us in Torrance. Credit: Liz Baylen / Los Angeles Times

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