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Shoppers Jeri Hull (left) and Karen Brashear (right) wait in line while shopping at Toys'R'Us during the Black Friday sales event on November 27, 2009 in Fort Worth, Texas. Toys'R'Us stores nationwide opened at midnight Thursday, November 26, providing shoppers access to its Black Friday deals five hours earlier than ever before. - 

by Jaclyn Giovis
UPDATED: Sunday, November 28, 2010

LOS ANGELES--After Americans carved the Thanksgiving turkey, watched their share of football, and recovered from a full-belly slumber, many turned their attention to another holiday tradition: shopping.

An estimated 212 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend, spending as much as $45 billion, according to a survey conducted over the weekend by BIGresearch and the National Retail Federation.

The turnout was up from 195 million shoppers over the same period last year. Americans also spent more, according to the survey, with the average shopper spending $365.34, up from last year's $343.31.

Black Friday: Let the games begin
The Friday after Thanksgiving officially kicked off the holiday shopping season, and even in the darkest economic times, retailers' traditional fanfare lure crowds to their stores.

Millions of shoppers, as many as 138 million, were expected to hit U.S. stores this weekend, according to the National Retail Federation. As always, many consumers were out to snag doorbuster deals and hot items, such as high-definition TVs and laptops, at a fraction of retailers' regular prices.

Shoppers this year are likely to be buying with cash or debt instead of credit cards, the National Retail Federation said in the 2010 edition of its annual holiday shopping survey.

Businesses hoping for a real Black Friday
Dubbed Black Friday by retailers -- who coined the term years ago to refer to the time of year when their business moves into the black, or turns a profit -- the day's deals could bring relief to people who are still struggling with unemployment, falling home prices and economic insecurity. For retailers, shoppers' behavior this weekend sets the tone for the most critical time of the sales calendar.

Perhaps one trend this year represents consumer behavior in these hard economic times: an increase in thrift-store sales.

Still, analysts say sales of luxury goods will be brisk as customers in the mid- to high-end gift market get comfortable spending money again. Even Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren said he was optimistic about sales this year at its stores across the country. The company also owns Bloomingdale's.

Shoppers turn to the Web on Cyber Monday
Shoppers, many who want to avoid crowded malls and retail outlets over the weekend, will flock to Web sites at their workplace on so-called Cyber Monday. It's the day retailers will make their big online sales push.

According the the research firm ComScore, consumers spent more than $648 million shopping online on Black Friday, and more than $11 billion online since the beginning of November. That's a 13-percent increase compared to the same period last year. On Thanksgiving Day, online shopping rose 28 percent to $407 million compared to last year.

Many retailers are gearing up for the boost in online shopping. Earlier this month Wal-Mart announced it would offer free shipping on its website. Lands End is trying a more personal approach. The company said its customer service department will be answering questions via video chat on its website this year.

The retail federation has predicted a 2.3 percent increase in retail sales for November and December, up from 0.4 percent a year earlier. To see how the actual consumer spending compares follow our continued coverage.

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