Sunday, November 28, 2004
NEW YORK — Americans spent more in stores at the start of holiday shopping than a year ago, according to figures released on Saturday, but retailers' hopes for the key season were curbed as titan Wal-Mart (WMT) cut its November sales forecast.
Consumers lined up to grab early-bird specials as stores opened from 5 a.m. on the Friday after Thanksgiving, which is one of the year's biggest shopping days, known as Black Friday (search) as it used to be the day retailers got into profit. Retailers now report profits throughout the year.
Black Friday used to be the biggest shopping day of the year, but now it competes with the Saturday before Christmas for top sales. Black Friday was the biggest shopping day in 2003.
Early sales data from analyst ShopperTrak showed Black Friday sales rose 10.8 percent from a year ago to $8 billion, while Visa USA said spending on its cards rose 15.5 percent to $4.1 billion with sales up but plastic also more widely used.
"We are cautiously optimistic this will be a good holiday season, but it is too early to tell if it will be a great holiday," said Visa USA spokesman Paul Cohen.
After a weak summer, retailers have become more optimistic about the make-or-break Thanksgiving-to-Christmas season that accounts for a quarter of annual retail sales, with oil prices easing and consumer confidence rising.
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Shit, $8Billion! That's three times more than the military spending for Colombia on Plan Colombia.