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TheStreet Open House

Holiday Shopping Season Off to Record Start

Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation, said retailers can be encouraged by the first weekend of the holiday shopping season.

"Retailers and consumers both won this weekend, especially on Thanksgiving," he said.

Here were the trends that emerged over the weekend:

-- Online wave: According to comScore, which tracks online spending, online sales rose 26% to $1.04 billion on Black Friday compared with a year ago. On Thanksgiving, online sales rose 32% from last year to $633 million. And online sales on Black Friday were up 26% from the same day last year to $1.042 billion. It was the first time online sales on Black Friday surpassed $1 billion.

-- Thanksgiving shopping: Many stores, including Toys R Us and Target, opened on Thanksgiving evening this year. No data is out yet about how much shoppers spent on that day, but it appears that consumers took advantage of the earlier start: According to the National Retail Federation's survey, the number of people who said they shopped on Thanksgiving rose 23.1%. That compares with a 3.1% increase for Black Friday.

Linda and James Michaels of Portland, Ore., were among those shopping on Thanksgiving. They hit up the big sales on the day and got everything they were hoping for that night.

They picked up remote control cars and some Mickey Mouse items on sale at Toys-R-Us. Then they went a few doors down to Target and scored the last Operation game on sale for $7. They were even able to pick up some pajamas and shoes along the way for the kids. In total they spent about $300.

"I felt lucky that I caught the deals and there was no craziness, no fighting," said Linda Michaels. "I was nervous."

ShopperTrak, which analyzes customer traffic at 40,000 U.S. stores, plans to release sales data for Thanksgiving later this week, but the firm is estimating that retailers generated $700 million in sales on the holiday.

-- Black Friday flop: It appears that the Thanksgiving openings may have hurt sales on the day after Thanksgiving, which is usually the biggest shopping day of the year.

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