Black Friday: Deals for shoppers, $20 billion for retailers?

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U.S. shoppers know what they stand to gain from Black Friday: deals and discounts, yes, but also long lines, parking hassles and headaches. Here’s what retailers stand to gain: $20 billion.

“If trends hold, factors such as extra store hours, increasing Internet promotions and inflation could result in Black Friday 2011 becoming the first single day with a legitimate chance of clearing the $20-billion threshold,” said Michael McNamara, a vice president with MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, in an email sent to The Times.

Analysts at SpendingPulse, which estimates total U.S. retail spending across all payment forms, said on Tuesday that Black Friday 2010 generated $19.3 billion in U.S. retail sales (excluding autos). That was a 4% improvement for the day over 2009. Now the projection is even rosier for the day that shoppers both long for and dread.

And, as McNamara noted, one of the factors driving this is longer store hours.


Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at the NPD Group, said in a Los Angeles Times report Monday that Black Friday is beginning to own the holiday shopping season:

‘It’s no longer Black Friday, it’s going to be Black Thanksgiving from here on out,’ he said. ‘Retailers recognize the importance of being convenient, and one of those conveniences is opening earlier so people don’t have to wait in line at 4 in the morning in the cold.’

But, of course, there’s no guarantee that shopping at midnight or 2 a.m. will be less cold and the hassles fewer -- which may be why consumers are expected to spend the highest amount since 2007 on, yes, gift cards.

According to the National Retail Federation, holiday shoppers will spend an average of $155.43 on gift cards, up from $145.61 last year. A news release from the federation says that a survey conducted in October found that gift cards ‘remain the most requested holiday gift.’


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-- Amy Hubbard