Big Turnout on Black Friday Weekend

More than 147 million shoppers hit the stores on Black Friday weekend, up a solid 4.8 percent from last year, according to the National Retail Federation.

Consumers spent an average of $347.44, down 3.5 percent from last year, but still up 14.8 percent from 2005, according to the NRF 2007 Black Friday Weekend Survey, conducted by BIGresearch. Retailers made up for the lower average expenditure with increased traffic.

“While last year showed a greater emphasis on high-definition televisions, this year consumers were focused on lower priced doorbusters like digital photo frames, laptops, and cashmere sweaters,” said Tracy Mullin, NRF president and chief executive officer. “Though Black Friday weekend was a complete success for many retailers, the results of the holiday season won’t be determined until the last two weeks of December.”

Black Friday was marked with retailers opening their doors earlier than ever, with some choosing to start their sales as early as midnight, according to the survey, which included Thursday, Friday, and Saturday results along with projected spending for Sunday. This strategy appeared to pay off as 14.3 percent of consumers were out shopping before 4 a.m., compared to 12.4 percent last year.

Men once again proved to be the better Black Friday customer. With a greater emphasis on door-buster specials in the consumer electronics category, men outspent women $393.63 to $303.95.

Though discounters saw a dip in traffic last year, they rebounded nicely this year as 55.1 percent of shoppers visited discount stores, up from 49.6 percent in 2006. Consumers also shopped in traditional department stores (38.7%), specialty retailers (43.2%), and online (31.6%).

The most popular items purchased were clothing or clothing accessories (46.8%), books, CDs, DVDs, videos or video games (41.7%). Other purchases this weekend included consumer electronics (35.7%), toys (28.2%), and gift cards (21%).

As of Sunday, Nov. 26, the average person has completed 36.4 percent of their holiday shopping, showing virtually no change from last year. Only one in 12 consumers (8.2%) has finished their holiday shopping.

NRF continues to project that holiday sales will rise 4 percent this year to $474.5 billion.