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Retailers See Holiday Gains Over Last Year

Retailers claimed a strong start to the holiday shopping season.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reported record single-day sales for Nov. 29 of more than $1.43 billion at its domestic Wal-Mart stores, compared with $1.25 billion for the Friday after Thanksgiving last year.

J.C. Penney Co. Inc. reportedly expects December same-store sales to rise in the low single digits and said that Thanksgiving weekend sales reached “record” levels. But the company reportedly expects sales from its catalog division to drop 20 percent for December.

Sharper Image Corp. yesterday reported that comparable-store sales rose 27 percent in the post-Thanksgiving weekend and that total store sales rose 41 percent over the same three days last year.

More than 75 percent of shoppers were out the weekend after Thanksgiving, according to a report released yesterday by the National Retail Federation.

“We attribute this to a combination of factors including six fewer shopping days pushing consumers to shop early, retailers doing an excellent job of advertising great values for consumers and an early Hanukkah,” Tracy Mullen, president/CEO of the NRF, said in a statement.

Black Friday, so-called because it is legendarily when retailers' books go from red to black, fell on Nov. 29 this year, a week later than last year.

Though Mullen partially credits the shortened shopping season for retailers' strong start, in a survey by Harris Interactive on behalf of Amazon.com, 85 percent of respondents said they were unaware they have six fewer holiday shopping days this year.

Meanwhile, the average consumer completed an additional 15 percent of his holiday shopping in the last half of November, according to the third installment of the NRF 2002 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted for the NRF by BIGresearch. As of this week, the average consumer has completed 39 percent of his holiday shopping. Just over 8 percent report having finished their shopping, the NRF said.

Discount department stores are faring well, the NRF said, with 49 percent of consumers making them a shopping destination.

The NRF projects a 4 percent increase in holiday sales this year over last, resulting in $209.3 billion in holiday revenue.

ShopperTrak RTC, which tracks retail data, said that retail sales for the day after Thanksgiving were 12.3 percent higher this year than last. In contrast, Black Friday 2001 saw a 2.7 percent growth in retail sales over the day after Thanksgiving in 2000.

The strong start to holiday shopping continued through the weekend, ShopperTrak RTC said. Holiday spending growth during the weekend was strongest in the South and Midwest, where consumers spent 10 percent more in the two days after Thanksgiving this year than last. Shoppers in the West spent 9 percent more in the two days after Thanksgiving this year, and shoppers in the Northeast spent 6 percent more.

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