Black Friday Receipts Show Promise, Consumers Appear Resilient

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Rising oil prices, tightening credit, and a housing meltdown are never healthy economic ingredients, though consumers in the United States appeared resilient after Thanksgiving.

A number of early reports showed strong retail traffic over the Black Friday weekend, a critical indicator of broader holiday spending.  US-based consumers are frequently criticized for their paltry savings levels, though heavy spending always stimulates the broader economy.  According to figures from ShopperTrak RCT Corp., sales on Friday and Saturday jumped 7.2 percent to $16.4 billion.  Elsewhere, data from the National Retail Federation pointed to a near-5 percent increase in consumer foot traffic to roughly 147 million people.

Online activity also jumped.  Researcher comScore Networks reported a 22 percent increase in Friday ecommerce spending to $530 million, and predicted sales of $700 million on “Cyber Monday”.  Bargains appeared to be driving the traffic, and it remains unclear if consumers will ultimately be more reserved this holiday season.  It also remains unclear whether the physical and digital increases are benefiting the recording industry, though consumer electronics manufacturers – including Apple – are well positioned for gains.  Traditionally, iTunes Store downloads surge after Christmas, as iPod recipients jump online to purchase tracks.

Story by news analyst Alexandra Osorio.