Black Friday Boosts Illinois Retailers

ILLINOIS (WIFR) -- The holiday shopping season in Illinois began with a bang on Black Friday weekend as shoppers took advantage of bargains on everything from sweaters to game systems at stores all across the state.

Whether shoppers lined up waiting for stores to open on Thanksgiving Day, picked up great deals on Black Friday, or visited their favorite independent stores on "Small Business Saturday," they displayed an excitement and willingness to shop and spend money, said David F. Vite, President & CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association.

While it's unlikely the shopping frenzy will continue at the same pace, momentum from the big start coupled with an extra-long shopping season (33 days from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve) should be enough to boost sales by about 4.1 percent over last year.

"It was a great start to the holiday shopping season. People are excited to shop," Vite said. "While shoppers are feeling better about spending, retailers understand consumers still want to stay within their budget, and are offering them some great deals throughout the holidays."

If the first big shopping weekend of the season is any indication, shoppers are responding to those deals in a big way. More than 89 million people shopped either online or in stores on Black Friday nationwide, up from 86 million people last year, according to a National Retail Federation survey.

On average, the typical shopper spent $423 over the weekend, up 6 percent from last year. Clothing led the list as more than 57 percent of weekend shoppers bought clothing or clothing accessories. Many shopped for themselves as 79.6 percent of consumers reported purchasing non-gift items, according to the NRF survey.

While Black Friday has a long tradition in holiday shopping, Thanksgiving Day continues to build a tradition of its own. More than 35 million people shopped their favorite store or website on the holiday, up from 29 million people nationwide a year ago, the NRF reported.

Cyber Monday, a day in which online retailers promote some of their biggest deals of the year, was a success as the average shopper spent $194 online Monday, compared to $174 the same day in 2011. Many of the most popular shopping websites belonged to brick and mortar stores with an online presence.

And Small Business Saturday, promoted by the Small Business Administration and American Express and others as a way to support independent retailers throughout the U.S., was very popular among shoppers. According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, consumers spent $5.5 billion at independent stores on Saturday.

Total spending for the five-day period between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday reached $59.1 billion.