NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Over 154 million customers went shopping over Thanksgiving weekend, topping last year's 151 million shoppers, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). However, the average amount spent per person over the Thanksgiving weekend dropped slightly to $289.19 from $299.60 in 2015. 

One curious statistic from the NRF report is that over one-third of the shoppers said 100% of the items they bought were on sale, noted CNBC's Melissa Lee on this afternoon's "Power Lunch." Typically, stores mark items down in hopes customers will also end up purchasing some full-priced items too. 

"No matter what promotions are a huge part of what shoppers care about," Cowen retail analyst Oliver Chen said in response on the show. That can be seen with the rise of discount stores like TJX  (TJX) and Ross  (ROST) . 

"Promotions are really, really important. They're an important part of what Americans really want," Chen reiterated. 

To be successful, retailers need to first plan ahead for promotions and then come up with unique methods to do promotions without "damaging the brand long-term," he explained. 

Gap  (GPS) was offering 50% off everything when Lee went into the store on Black Friday, she noted. 

Any discount over 40% is a "big deal" and offering a percentage off a store's entire assortment is "worrisome," Chen noted. Gap is going through a fashion change, he added. 

American Eagle  (AEO) is a stock Cowen likes because its benefit from the continued popularity of jeans, leggings and athleisure.  

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