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Black Friday: Holiday weekend shoppers set sales, traffic records

November 27, 2011 |  2:46 pm

Black friday pic
Drawn by heavy promotions and earlier-than-ever opening times, shoppers swarmed the malls on Black Friday and the rest of the long weekend and gave retailers a good start to the holiday season.

A record number of people headed to stores and shopped online from Thanksgiving Day through Sunday, spending more than last year on presents and indulging in some items for themselves.  

Shoppers shelled out an estimated $52.4 billion in person and on the Web during the four-day weekend, up 16% from $45 billion last year, the National Retail Federation said Sunday. They spent on average of $398.62 each, a 9.1% jump compared to 2010, the industry group said.

"It seems like American consumers have been taking a deep breath and making the decision that it’s okay to shop again," said Ellen Davis, vice president of the National Retail Federation.

Nationwide, about 227 million shoppers visited stores and websites during the long weekend, up 7% from 212 million last year, the retail federation said.

The increased traffic was fueled in part by earlier opening hours at several big retailers such as Best Buy, Macy's and Toys R Us, which gambled that consumers would take a shine to staying up late to shop Thanksgiving night rather than waking up early the next day.  

On Black Friday alone, retailers raked in an estimated $11.4 billion in stores, up 6.6% from last year, according to ShopperTrak, a research firm that has tracking devices in stores nationwide. It was the biggest year-over-year increase since an 8.3% surge in 2007.


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Photo: Carolina Ahumada and her daughter, Nicole Gonzalez, carry bags Friday from the Disney Store. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times