Familiar Names in Old and New Spaces Lead Retailers

Stores sell more things to fewer people in the post-Thanksgiving rush.
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Investors gave their initial blessings Monday to established names in the discount and Internet spaces after returns from Black Friday showed reason for cautious optimism.

Sales at stores open at least one year rose 2.4% on the Friday after Thanksgiving over the same day last year, said TeleCheck Services, a check-clearing firm and subsidiary of

First Data Corporation

(FDC) - Get Report

. That compares with an increase of 4.6% on that day last year.

"The one-day sales data provide us with just a glimpse of what we might expect for the rest of the shopping season," said William Ford, Telecheck's senior economic adviser, in a written statement. "While the day after Thanksgiving is traditionally not the biggest shopping day of the year, it provides an encouraging early indication of spending for the season."

At the same time, mall traffic was down 7.4% from a year ago, according to RCT Systems, a Chicago-based industry group. In recent trading, the S&P Retail Index was up 0.4%.

Slow Draw

Discounters are thought to have done better than specialty retailers over the weekend, as a slowing economy has made consumers price-conscious.

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

reported record single-day sales on Friday of more than $1.25 billion. But today, the discounter said same-store sales in November are trending at the low end of its forecast for a 4% to 6% increase. Its stock was lately up 11 cents, or 0.20%, to $55.91.

To entice customers over the holiday weekend,

Kmart

(KM)

stores stayed open for 66 hours straight, from 5 a.m. on Friday through 11 p.m. on Sunday, offering discounts that included 70% off jewelry and 20% off seasonal holiday merchandise. Kmart was ahead by 3 cents, or 0.44%, to $6.88 this afternoon.

Nielsen/NetRatings said 22% more home Internet users purchased online the day after Thanksgiving versus last year; sales jumped 27% on that day last year. Friday-to-Friday sales online spiked 227% at Kmart on the day after Thanksgiving, while they jumped 73% at

Sears

(S) - Get Report

.

Shares of

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

were up $1.94, or 21.37%, to $11.02, as unit sales appear to be ahead of expectations. According to Amazon's holiday "delight-o-meter," which tracks the number of items purchased from its sites, customers have ordered 8.9 million items since Nov. 9.

Wizardry

Of the 25 bestselling holiday items on Amazon, five were Harry Potter-related, and included the boxed set of books one through four. DVD players also were among the retailers' hot holiday gifts, as orders from Nov. 9 through Nov. 19 rose more than 75% over the same period last year.

Specialty home retailer

Pier 1

(PIR) - Get Report

said today that November sales are beating forecasts and its fiscal third-quarter earnings will be better than it had expected.

Based on sales through Thanksgiving, the company expects November sales to increase 6% to 8%. Pier 1 now expects to earn 21 cents to 23 cents per share in the third quarter. Consensus estimates call for earnings of 20 cents per share. Pier 1 was lately up 71 cents, or 5.1%, to $14.68.