‘Black Friday’ stats show more shopping

Statistics show the 2008 Christmas shopping season got off to a flying start in the United States with spending reaching an estimated $41 billion.

The National Retail Federation said Sunday that the number of shoppers who hit the stores on the day after Thanksgiving was up as was the amount spent on a per-shopper basis.

Pent-up demand on electronics and clothing, plus unparalleled bargains on this season’s hottest items helped drive shopping all weekend, NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin said in a written statement. Holiday sales are not expected to continue at this brisk pace, but it is encouraging that Americans seem excited to go shopping again.

Retailers had been jittery about the holiday shopping season due to the wobbly economy and were aggressive in offering sales.

The NRF said it appeared to pay off with 172 million shoppers visiting stores and Web sites Friday compared to about 147 million on Black Friday last year. The amount spent was pegged at $372.57 per shopper, up 7.2 percent from $347.55 last year.

Sales kept the weekend traffic at a fairly brisk pace as well with an estimated 57 million people shopping on Saturday and around 26 million projected for Sunday.

Consumers are still being cautious, cautioned Phil Rist of Strategic Initiatives, BIGresearch. Weekend shoppers indicated that they are still sticking to a budget and thinking carefully before making any holiday purchases.