Black Friday 2009: More Shoppers Spent Less Money

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The Wall Street Journal reports that while 23 million more shoppers hit stores this Black Friday compared to last year, they spent less money:

Roughly 195 million consumers shopped in stores and online over the Black Friday weekend, up from 172 million last year, according to the National Retail Federation. But average spending dropped to $343.31 per person from $372.57 a year ago.

Overall sales for the four-day weekend totaled $41.2 billion, up marginally from $41 billion last year, the NRF estimated. The trade group bases its figures on a survey, conducted Thursday through Saturday, of roughly 5,000 consumers and includes a projection for Sunday.

“The appetite among consumers this year seems to trend toward the lower-price items, the items they could literally afford with the money they already have in their wallet,” said Ellen Davis, vice president of the Washington-based retail group, which has predicted a 1% decrease in November and December sales this year over last.

The holiday season—when many retailers make the bulk of their sales and profits for the year—is being closely watched by economists and others as an indicator of whether consumers are still deeply worried about the economy and unemployment, and are hampered by tight credit. After a disastrous season last year, retailers have ratcheted down sales expectations while slimming their stocks and filling the shelves with cheaper goods.

Online shoppers, meanwhile, have increased their purchases both on Black Friday and over the past weekend. Comscore, a e-commerce research firm, reported that online Black Friday sales were up 11% compared to 2008. Thanksgiving Day online shopping was up 10% this year.

Cyber Monday results will be reported as early as tomorrow afternoon.

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