- Cape man gets 8 years for robbery, his first offense (12/7/16)9
- 3 students in custody for violent threat; no details released (12/9/16)15
- Abuse suspect tries to take cop's gun; officer zaps him with Taser and punches his face (12/7/16)3
- Group seeks to create a neighborhood park on Cape Girardeau's south side (12/7/16)14
- Man sentenced to 103 years for murder of Cape woman (12/6/16)4
- Cape may allow residents to keep chickens; residents at meeting push for measure (12/6/16)34
- Poplar Bluff man accused of enticement, child porn in Scott County sting operation (12/4/16)
- Burglary suspect apprehended inside Jackson garage (12/4/16)
- Company to start recruiting businesses to Jackson, Cape (12/9/16)15
- 13 venues, 60 sponsors participating in Happy Slapowitz's Toy Bash on Thursday (12/7/16)2
Early data shows strong Black Friday
CHICAGO -- The nation's retailers got a much-needed sales boost during Black Friday's traditional shopathon as consumers, lured by deep discounts, spent nearly 3 percent more than they did last year.
Sales on the day after Thanksgiving rose to $10.6 billion, according to preliminary figures released Saturday by ShopperTrak RCT Corp., a Chicago-based research firm that tracks sales at more than 50,000 retail outlets.
Last year, shoppers spent about $10.3 billion on the day after Thanksgiving, dubbed Black Friday because it was historically the sales-packed day when retailers would become profitable for the year.
While it isn't a predictor of overall holiday season sales, Black Friday is an important barometer of people's willingness to spend during the holidays. Last year, it was the biggest sales generator of the season.
But experts caution that this year's sales growth may be hard to sustain for the remainder of the holiday shopping season, which has 27 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas instead of the 32 last year.
Still, some analysts said the sales boost was surprising in light of data showing shoppers are scaling back on discretionary spending because of a recession fueled by uncertainty related to turmoil in the world's financial and credit markets.
"Under these circumstances, to start off the season in this fashion is truly amazing and is a testament to the resiliency of the American consumer, and undeniably proves a willingness to spend," ShopperTrak co-founder Bill Martin said in a statement.
Snagging the best deals
Sales in the South were up 3.4 percent from last year while they climbed 2.6 percent in the Northeast as shoppers began scouring store aisles at midnight hoping to snag the best selection on early morning specials.
Patty Saal, 60, of Mogadore, Ohio, began her Black Friday shopping at 5 a.m. when she and her daughters went to a Sam's Club to purchase iPods.
"We're doing fine," she said.
Fifth-grade teacher Daphna Stepen, 42, spent Black Friday hunting for deals inside Macy's and at the Limited Too clothing store and headed out again on Saturday. The Chicago resident said she was surprised by the discounts as well as how many coupons she'd received from stores, which helped her save even more money on already marked-down items.
"You can get almost 40 percent off stuff if you work the coupons," she said.
Separately on Saturday, J.C. Penney Co. Inc. said business was strong in its sites across the country as customers responded to sales. Some of the department store's best sellers were smaller electronic gadgets and practical gifts, such as sweaters, boots, coats and luggage.
But the chain said it wouldn't provide specific sales figures.
"In light of the challenging and volatile economic climate, and shifts in this year's retail calendar, we don't believe that reporting sales data for any one day [or weekend], including Black Friday, would provide a meaningful barometer of our business," the Plano, Texas company said in a statement released Saturday afternoon.