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Early figures on Black Friday sales look mildly positive

NEW YORK — Holiday shopping held steady through the weekend after retailers saw a huge crowd of bargain shoppers buying discounted flat-panel TVs and fleece jackets on Black Friday, the traditional post-Thanksgiving Day shopping spree.

Economic worries about jobs were still apparent as shoppers stuck to their lists and focused on practical and small-ticket items for themselves and for their loved ones, resulting in a mildly encouraging start to the season.

Online sales on Thursday and Friday, however, rose 11 percent to $913 million, according to data released Sunday by comScore, an Internet research firm.

According to preliminary figures released Saturday by ShopperTrak, a research firm that tracks more than 50,000 outlets, sales rose 0.5 percent to $10.66 billion Friday, compared with a year ago. That was on top of a 3 percent increase last year.

The National Retail Federation trade group said Sunday it is sticking to its forecast for holiday sales to decline 1 percent from last year.

Major merchants including J.C. Penney Co. and Sears Holdings Corp., which operates Kmart and Sears, broke new ground this year by making many of their Black Friday specials available on their Web sites at the same time.

Marketing gurus are calling the season a "Twitter Christmas" as merchants have been tweeting deals and offering previews of discounts on Facebook pages.

Sears spokesman Tom Aiello noted Sunday that since Wednesday, the chain has sent out a few dozen tweets to inform customers of bargains for the weekend and for today, which is heavily promoted as Cyber Monday.

A more complete sales picture won't be known until Thursday, when the nation's retailers report November sales.

Early figures on Black Friday sales look mildly positive 11/29/09 [Last modified: Sunday, November 29, 2009 10:34pm]
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