Holiday sales numbers up slightly from last year

November 28, 2009 (CHICAGO) Preliminary sales information show shoppers spent $10.66 billion when they hit the malls on Black Friday, the traditional start to the holiday shopping season.

That's only .5 percent more than last year, but retailers don't seem to be complaining.

The figures were compiled by ShopperTrak a Chicago research firm that tracks sales at more than 50,000 stores.

Most everyone on Michigan Avenue was enjoying the sights and the sounds of the holiday as shoppers crowded into stores and malls trying to snatch up the bargains.

"I went into express and got a pretty good deal on a skirt. I'm having fun out here, enjoying the Christmas lights. Everything is wonderful," Kainos Jackson said.

Over this Thanksgiving weekend, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, many retailers are hoping after a year of dismal sales to lure customers looking to spend back into their stores.

"We have a lot of everything. Our current deal is buy one get one half off everything in the store," said Paul LaPointe, Crocs.

The owners of Smartphone Essentials at the Shops at North Bridge say they've been doing good business because of the more practical nature of gift giving this year.

"The cell phone accessory snaps on, and we have one that matches every kind of phone. It protects the phone if you drop it. It upgrades the phone, so it looks nice," said Iqbal Charania, Smartphone Essentials.

As many crowded into well known store chains, some like Kate Christensen of Orland Park decided to go a different route by heading to the non-traditional Christkindl Market at Daley Plaza.

"It's nothing like downtown or anything," Christensen said.

With bargain hunters continuing to line up for deals and discounts on everything from toys to TVs, some analysts say retailers will push even harder to get more customers.

"The difference is this year's inventory levels are lean, the markdown rates aren't as high and you're going to see retailers are going to run out of merchandise. For the consumer, they need to buy it quicker or else it may not be there," said Dana Telsey, Retail Analyst.

Experts say if you're not finding the deal you want, don't worry. With less than 4 weeks left, stores will be sending bargains into high gear to get shoppers into the stores.

People who shopped online from the comforts of their homes also dramatically boosted their spending on Black Friday.

Web marketing analyst Coremetrics says the average amount online shoppers spent Friday was about 35 percent higher than on the day after Thanksgiving a year ago.

The company says web shoppers also bought more items each time they checked out from an online merchant than last year.

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