Retailers are celebrating a great start to the holiday shopping season this week. Sales on Black Friday and the weekend that followed soared past expectations. This period often foreshadows the strength of overall holiday sales. So will Americans spend far more this year than last year, or is there some other possible explanation for why Black Friday shoppers were so eager to spend?
First, just how strong were sales? Although official tallies won't be available until later this week, some preliminary estimates are pretty optimistic. Andria Cheng at Dow Jones Newswires reports:
The number of people who shopped at stores and online between Thursday and Sunday jumped 8.7% to 212 million shoppers, according to a National Retail Federation survey of 4,306 shoppers conducted by BIGresearch. The total amount spent during the four-day weekend reached an estimated $45 billion, with the average spending rising 6.4% to $365.34, the survey showed.
That 6.4% increase for Black Friday appears to have soundly beat expectations of 2% to 3%, though some other estimates don't predict as impressive performance. Still, if sales are significantly higher for Black Friday than they were last year, this would generally indicate that holiday shopping overall will be quite robust. That is, unless there's some other explanation.