The power of those deals was very persuasive. Stores that extended their hours this past weekend gained 22% more business, Cohen said.
"That's market share they're taking from someone else," he said. "The stores that didn't participate in the new extended hours lost on average 8%. So what that means is a new tradition is being born right in front of our eyes. Look next year for more stores to participate in these earlier and longer hours."
Shoppers also are expecting there to be more deals as Christmas draws closer. In the Deloitte survey, 39% of all holiday shoppers surveyed say they will likely make their purchases later this holiday season because they expect better promotions.
One for you, two for me
Needham analyst Christine Chen said she expects that some of the higher spending came from shoppers who were buying items for themselves on the cheap.
"We think the holidays will be back-end loaded as the event-driven shopper procrastinates and hopes for better deals as Christmas approaches," Chen said.
Cohen agrees there was a lot of self-gifting. About 44% of the shoppers this weekend shopped for themselves, he said. That's up 12% over last year.
Customer Growth Partners President Craig Johnson continues to expect that holiday retail sales will rise 6.5% from last year, which would be the best growth since 2006 and is higher than many forecasts, including the retail industry's own prediction.
Johnson expects consumers will take a breather until the second week of December, which repeats a pattern that has been seen for many years.
Johnson also is very optimistic about the growth of online and direct-to-consumer sales, which he expects will rise between 12% and 15% this year.
In fact, Johnson expects ecommerce sales rose so sharply on Thanksgiving itself that that day may rival the Cyber Monday promotions.
And the high-end and luxury consumers, who shun the Black Friday frenzy, will start their shopping this week, Johnson said.
"As always, male luxury shoppers will wait until the last 10 days before Christmas to do their shopping -- particularly for jewelry."
But even Johnson cautions, "One swallow does not a holiday season make. After the deepest recession in decades, the solid Black Friday weekend is welcome news -- but we're only in the second quarter of a long playoff game."
Written by Christina Cheddar Berk, CNBC News Editor