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Stores 'bustling' with Black Friday weekend shoppers

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(Monica Maschak - mmaschak@shawmedia.com)
Amanda Garcia (left) and Mike Spencer, both of Wonder Lake, receive the last Door Buster ticket for a 24-inch television from Kmart Store Manager Scott Davis in Crystal Lake on Thursday, November 22, 2012. Garcia and Spencer had been waiting in line since 5:30 p.m. Thursday in hopes to get a Door Buster ticket for the 50-inch television, which was given to the first five customers in line.

According to the National Retail Federation, a record 247 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend, up from 226 million last year

The average holiday shopper spent $423 last weekend, up from $398 last year. Total spending reached an estimated $59.1 billion.

“From green beans to great deals, millions of Americans found time this Thanksgiving to make the most of retailers’ promotions and enjoy a special family holiday,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.

Suzanne Cannon, owner of Steffan's Jewelers in McHenry, said she noticed a big increase in Small Business Saturday business.

"I was so happy. It was huge," she said of the Saturday crowds in her store at 325 Front St.

"People were even mentioning it was about Small Business Saturday. It was phenomenal; really crazy in here," Cannon said.

Cannon said weekends are typically strong, especially during the holidays, when kids come back home and families are together.

'We had lots of appointments. The store was bustling over and above our normal weekend," she said.

Cannon said she believes people are making a conscious effort to "shop small" so they continue to have a choice.

"If everybody shops just at Kohl's and online, all we're going to be left with is Kohl's and online," she said.

In jewelry, white metals, sterling silver, platinum and fancy-colored diamonds continue to be the big sellers. Steffan's best-selling line is Hearts on Fire, which feature "the world's finest cut diamonds."

"So many people get engaged over the holidays," Cannon said. "The last couple years has been over the top with engagements."

About 235 customers attended Steffan's 30th annual Ladies Day Luncheon and Holiday Wishcard Party Nov. 16. Steffan's will host its 32nd annual Men's NIght on Dec. 13. For more information, visit www.steffansjewelers.com.

Leaving the dishes for later, eager holiday shoppers ventured out as soon as they could on Thanksgiving night. According to the NRF survey 28 percent of weekend shoppers were at the stores by midnight on Black Friday, compared to 24.4 percent last year.

The weekend shopping bonanza wasn’t limited to stores; consumers also spent more of their holiday budget online. According to the survey, the average person spent $172.42 online over the weekend, or approximately 40.7 of their total weekend spending, up from 37.8 percent last year.

NRF also asked shoppers which days they shopped online – more than one-quarter (27 percent) of holiday shoppers said they shopped online on Thanksgiving Day, and nearly half (47.5 percent) on Black Friday.

Cyber Monday will be the biggest online shopping day of the year for the third year in a row: According to research firm comScore, Americans are expected to spend $1.5 billion, up 20 percent from last year on Cyber Monday, as retailers have ramped up their deals to get shoppers to click on their websites.

“There’s no question that millions of people were drawn to retailers’ aggressive online promotions this weekend, making sure to research and compare prices days in advance to ensure they were getting the best deal they could,” said BIGinsight Consumer Insights Director Pam Goodfellow. “However, with shopper traffic increasing at department, discount, and clothing stores over the weekend, it’s clear that consumers still recognize Black Friday as one of the biggest shopping days of the year, as they have for decades.”

Lured by deep discounts and practical spending habits, eight in 10 (79.6 percent) shoppers took advantage of retailers’ weekend promotions to buy non-gift items.

Over their weekend shopping trips, looking for both “self-gifts” and gifts for others, nearly six in 10 (57.7 percent) bought clothing and clothing accessories, up from 51.4 percent last year. Gift buyers also bought toys (34.6 percebt), books, CDs, DVDs,video games (39.8 percent), electronics (37.7 percent), and jewelry (15.2 percent). Nearly one-third (32.6 percent) of shoppers bought gift cards over the weekend, up nearly 10 percentage points from the 23.1 percent who did so last year last year.

Looking to get the best bang for their buck and eager to get their hands on exclusive product offerings, more than half (53.5 perent) of shoppers visited department stores this weekend, up from 48.7 percent last year. Additionally, consumers shopped at discount stores (39.4 percent), clothing stores (29 percent), electronics stores (33 percent), grocery stores (21.7 percent), and drug stores (12.7 percent). Taking advantage of retailers’ special online deals over the weekend, 43.8 percent of shoppers visited retailers’ websites, up from 35.2 percent last year.

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