Black Friday sales increased 6.6 percent to the largest amount ever as U.S. consumers shrugged off 9 percent unemployment and went shopping.
Consumers spent $11.4 billion, ShopperTrak said in a statement yesterday. Foot traffic rose 5.1 percent on Black Friday, according to the Chicago-based research firm.
“This is the largest year-over-year gain in ShopperTrak’s National Retail Sales Estimate for Black Friday since the 8.3 percent increase we saw between 2007 and 2006,” ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin said in the statement. “Still, it’s just one day. It remains to be seen whether consumers will sustain this behavior through the holiday shopping season.”
The brisk turnout came as retailers from the Gap to Wal-Mart to Toys “R” Us Inc. opened their doors earlier than ever. The move to turn Black Friday into more than just one day also spurred online sales, which gained 39 percent on Thanksgiving and 24 percent on Black Friday, according to IBM’s Coremetrics.
Many shoppers were rookies who had never before participated in the busiest shopping day of the year, dubbed Black Friday because many retailers are said to become profitable then. As many as 152 million people were expected to shop at stores and websites on Black Friday, up 10 percent from last year, according to the National Retail Federation.