A Holiday Shopping Spree

A record-number of sales gives a boost to the U.S. economy. Will it last?

November 28, 2011

Black Friday shoppers scramble for discounted video games at a Wal-Mart in Mentor, Ohio.

Today may feel like just another Monday, but it’s not. It’s Cyber Monday—a day when shoppers traditionally head to the Internet looking for bargains. Strong sales can give a boost to the U.S. economy. Cyber Monday follows the day after Thanksgiving shopping spree known as Black Friday. This year, retail sales on Black Friday were stronger than predicted. They were up 7% over last year.

Veronica Gonzalez does some holiday shopping at a Target in Corpus Christi, Texas, shortly after the store opened at midnight on Black Friday.
Veronica Gonzalez does some holiday shopping at a Target in Corpus Christi, Texas, shortly after the store opened at midnight on Black Friday.

The Start of the Season

Black Friday has been around since the 1960s. For many, it marks the beginning of the holiday season. On Black Friday, shoppers head to stores early in the morning. They are on the hunt for big deals. This year, many stores opened at midnight to give shoppers even more time to spend money. While many shoppers were happy about the extended store hours, some employees were not. Employees at Target and Best Buy created online petitions to protest the midnight openings.

Still, thanks to the midnight openings, shopping centers such as the Mall of America, in Bloomington, Minnesota, broke records for total visitor numbers on Friday. About 210,000 people visited the mall on Friday.

The National Retail Federation estimates 226 million shoppers visited stores and websites over the Black Friday weekend. ShopperTrak, a company that analyzes sales data for companies and storeowners, estimates that total sales hit $11.4 billion this Friday.

Bill Martin founded ShopperTrak. He told the Associated Press that he was surprised by the strong sales. “I am pleased to see it, “ he said. “You can’t have a great season without having a good Black Friday.”

But will the shopping frenzy last? Some experts fear that sales will slow. And even if they don’t, a strong shopping season may not be enough to help the U.S. economy, which is struggling.

The Sales Continue on Cyber Monday

Analysts are closely watching Monday’s Internet sales. Many retailers are offering online bargains today. The National Retail Federation estimates 122 million Americans will shop on-line.

Since it’s debut in 2005, Cyber Monday has become the biggest online shopping day of the year. Last year, sales topped $1 billion for the first time. This year online purchases are expected to increase to $1.2 billion.

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