NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Black Friday weekend traffic may have hit record numbers, but this didn't necessarily translate into a significant uptick in retail sales.
Overall, 212 million shoppers visited stores and Web sites Thanksgiving weekend, up from 195 million last year, according to the National Retail Federation.
But ShopperTrak said an increase in shoppers (it reported 2.2% growth in traffic on Black Friday proper) resulted in a mere 0.3% increase in sales to $10.69 billion from $10.66 billion in 2009 on Nov. 26.
One of the predominant reasons for sluggish sales, it seems, is an earlier promotional push of pre-Black Friday deals in November, with the first two weeks of the month posting a 6.1% and 6.2% jump in sales, respectively, compared with the same time last year, according to ShopperTrak."ShopperTrak [results] may leave some investors in retail equities concerned on the potential for disappointment in the fourth-quarter financials for the sector," Wall Street Strategies analyst Brian Sozzi, wrote in a note. "At the very least, it may spark confusion on the part of investors as to the next move (buy more shares or dump) given the more optimistic data points from the NRF on Sunday afternoon. To all of this, I would say let's not write the holiday season off just yet or become overly bullish. High expectations are built into the associated equities and if the data is conflicting, a sell-off could open up opportunities." Of course, Black Friday tallies are mixed, with firms like Customer Growth Partners reporting an 8% surge in Black Friday weekend sales to $39 billion, while NRF estimates that total spending for the weekend reached $45 billion. Regardless of exact numbers, experts agreed on one thing: malls were packed, with checkout lines of 50 or more at some specialty stores, and big-box and high-end outlets seeing lines exceeding 400 shoppers, Craig Johnson, president at Customer Growth Partners, notes. By division, department stores and clothing retailers saw the biggest jumps in traffic, according to the NRF, while the number of shoppers at discounters declined 7.2% from 43.2% in 2009.
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