Still, the weak economic environment and still high unemployment rates bode well for dusch discounters as Walmart (WMT - Get Report) and Toys R Us, which will be offering staple goods on discount to target thriftier spenders.
Even if retailers report record sales volume, analysts will be still be wary to see the effect that the significant discounts have on retailers' margins and their bottom line, and how much they are relying on "loss leaders" to generate foot-traffic into their stores. Furthermore, a spike in Black Friday sales might only signal that consumers have front-loaded their gift shopping, and that sales in the remaining weeks running up to Christmas might actually be lower.
Analyst Brian Sozzi, of Wall Street Strategies, for one, says that Black Friday is seeing a much heavier international presence in Manhattan this year compared to the year before. "In the stores you see them carrying three, four bags a person," Sozzi says.
Case in point: This morning Sozzi met a UK couple who, he says, had spent 100 pounds shopping. They said they would have had to have spent three times more money for the same items in the UK."They are all taking advantage of our currency right now," explains Sozzi Meanwhile, Sozzi says, stores everywhere on Black Friday were experiencing heavy customer traffic. Sozzi notes that this is hardly surprising for Gap (GPS) stores and Old Navy, as well as Macy's, who have been offering the most promotions. Macy's traffic has been stronger than JCPenney's, which has just opened a store in Manhattan. Sozzi notes that Gap is selling very holiday-themed items, while Gap brand Banana Republic's has been more versatile. Overall, consumers have been taking advantage of stores that were opened on Thanksgiving, like Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, The Sports Authority (TSA), Walmart and Kmart, a subsidiary of Sears (SHLD - Get Report). Meanwhile, favorable weather conditions nationwide kept consumers shopping throughout the day.