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Black Friday sales down 11 percent, retailers group reports
Fewer people hit the mall over Thanksgiving weekend and those who did shop spent less money than last year, according to the National Retail Federation.

Fewer people hit the mall over Thanksgiving weekend and those who did shop spent less money than last year, according to the National Retail Federation.

“Total spending from Thursday through Sunday sank 11 percent from a year earlier to $50.9 billion, according to the National Retail Federation, which surveyed 4,600 consumers on Friday and Saturday,” reported The Wall Street Journal.

“The average person only spent $380.95, compared with last year's $407.02, the retail group's survey said,” stated NBC News. That’s down 6.4 percent from last year.

“The decline, the second annual drop in a row, came in part because retailers started offering deals in the days and even weeks before, giving shoppers ample opportunities to snag discounts without having to endure the lines and crowds that typify Black Friday,” the Journal reported.

In addition, online retailers offered equivalent deals and free shipping to online shoppers. Most of those deals began before Thanksgiving and extended through the following Cyber Monday. Those who did not want to leave visiting family members during the holiday were able to buy before or wait until Monday and saved just as much money as they would have in the stores.

Shoppers were more hesitant buying big-ticket items this year. “Consumers have become much more dutiful about researching their purchases on the Web to find the best price and have also become more disciplined, limiting their impulse buys,” continued The Wall Street Journal.

The drop in shopping may actually be a good thing. “While it may seem counter-intuitive, analysts say the decrease in shopping over the heavily discounted Thanksgiving weekend actually signals a stronger season since it shows that people are less interested in ‘sales’ — because the economy is getting stronger,” reported NBC News.

The National Retail Federation predicts a better overall shopping season, despite the drop in Thanksgiving weekend sales. “Holiday season sales this year will increase by 4.1 percent, compared with 2013's increase of 3.1 percent,” the federation news release stated.

However, Gerald Storch, CEO of Storch Advisors and former CEO of Toys R Us, said that the NRF report is “a ridiculous piece of data,” according to CNBC.

"I don't believe any way whatsoever sales were down 11 percent over the weekend," Storch told the cable finance channel.

The data is “unreliable because it relies on consumer polling and self-reporting that gauges what people spent halfway through the weekend and what they expected to spend the rest of it,” he said.

“(Storch) believes sales were actually up slightly, with double-digit increases online and a slight single-digit decrease in stores. Online sales were up 32 percent on Thanksgiving Day and 26 percent on Black Friday compared with last year, according toComScore data,” reported CNBC. | Twitter: @debyleneb