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Black Friday Sales Fall 13.2 Percent, But Thursday/Friday Sales Up 2.3 Percent

WASHINGTON (UPI) — Retail figures were mixed for the holiday weekend with a drop in Black Friday sales attributed to gains on Thanksgiving Day, a U.S. retail research group said.

Partially due to stores opening on Thursday, sales on Black Friday fell 13.2 percent, research firm ShopperTrak said. But over the two-day stretch of Thursday and Friday combined, sales were up 2.3 percent from the same two days of 2012, ShopperTrak said.

Some industry analysts said that the fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year prompted retailers to offer shopping deals as early as October, which took away some of the impact of the Black Friday sales event, The New York Times reported Sunday.

The National Retail Federation also said Black Friday sales did not hold up compared to last year, but overall sales for the shopping season were expected to rise 3.9 percent from 2012.

The NRF estimated 141 million people shopped during the four-day holiday, including online shopping, a 1 percent gain from 2012.

Spending, however, fell from $423.55 per person last year to $407.02 this year with total spending projected at $57.4 billion, down nearly 3 percent from 2012, when the weekend rang up receipts of $59.1 billion.

“There are some economic challenges that many Americans still face. So in general terms, many are intending to be a little bit more conservative with their budgets,” said Matthew Shay, the trade group’s chief executive officer.

Retailers, however, are under pressure to justify opening on Thanksgiving Day, as the practice has met with a cultural backlash that includes petitions demanding companies allow their employees a full day off for the national holiday.

“[In general] the Thursday store openings did well. But a lot of it was at the expense of Black Friday,” ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin said.

Positive and negative factors include intangible factors, like public relations and customer loyalty. But there are also tangible factors, like having to pay staff holiday pay.

“Thursday is going to be a tough day to make any profit,” Martin said.

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