Speaking of an improved economy ... .
It's looking to be a jolly Christmas for retailers.
The Thanksgiving weekend gave the nation's retailers a strong start to the holiday season.
Here in Cape Girardeau and Jackson, there were long lines in the early morning hours as stores opened on Black Friday, the retailers' name for the day after Thanksgiving because it's supposed to be the day stores go out of the red and into the black.
Total sales on that Friday were up 4.8 percent to $7.2 billion from the Friday after Thanksgiving a year ago. Some retailers here saw greater increases than that, some by as much as 20 percent over last year.
Shoppers also logged onto the Internet in large numbers.
Typically, online shopping begins the Monday after Thanksgiving, when many start shopping from their workplace computers. But this year, many online retailers saw sales spikes on Thanksgiving Day itself.
The strong sales look likely to continue. Some experts are forecasting a sales gain of 4.5 percent or higher for the November-December period, the best performance in four years.
For many stores, this year's sales performance is a welcome end to the slump of the past few years. Customers will benefit too, thanks to more sales and special offers.