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Black Friday Is Over: Any Bargains Left?

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- Consumers spent like crazy on Black Friday, with sales increasing 7% over last year as shoppers focused on great deals and splurged on gifts for themselves instead of others.

With many consumers still needing to find gifts for family and friends, shoppers are wondering what sales are still in store for this holiday season. Will they need to wait until right before Christmas to get the best deals or will retailers have some bargains in the next couple of weeks of Black Friday hangover recovery?

Black Friday was a bonanza for retailers, but will they keep up that momentum for the rest of the holiday season?

Brad Wilson of BradsDeals.com says prices tend to go up after the deep discounts of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and stay more or less level until the last-minute sales kick in right before Christmas. According to his research, items that were specifically discounted for Black Friday tend to be around 20% more expensive the following Friday. But if sales lag in the next two weeks, some retailers may turn to another round of discounting to boost sales volume and move inventory.

"On the whole, it's a shop-early-and-shop-late strategy that has proven best for consumers," Wilson says. "But retailers are very adaptive, and will discount more or less depending on how well the season is going and how much inventory they have."

And the outlook on retail spending is still unclear, according to industry analysts.

"Unemployment is still high and consumers are still cautious," says Janet Shim, a research analyst with research firm IBISWorld. "The strong Black Friday sales might just mean that consumers are shopping earlier, and may mean lower sales for the rest of the holiday."

In fact, Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for industry research firm NPD, says that the next two weeks could be unusually slow for retailers due to the strong showing on Black Friday.

"Yes, shoppers took advantage, yes, they bought for themselves, but the post-Black Friday lull is going to be a little deeper," he says. "They've spent all their cash or maxed out their credit cards, so now they have to pay off [their credit card bill] or get their next paycheck. The next two weeks is going to be a bigger decline than we've seen in the past."

If you skipped the malls during this weekend, your best bet for finding great deals was to take advantage of the various Cyber Monday sales. But if retailers see a sharp drop-off after last weekend's spending spree, we wouldn't be shocked to see some mid-December sales in the offing.

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