With Black Friday underway across the country, early results are starting to come in and it looks like retailers and e-tailers have a solid base to build on. 

Retail sales for the first two weeks of the holiday shopping season are up 6% across general merchandise categories, according to market research company NPD, but much of the spending has been on things consumers want for themselves rather than what they're buying as gifts for others. 

"Early season growth demonstrates the consumer's willingness to spend and spells potential for retail this holiday," said Marshal Cohen, NPD's Chief industry Analyst. "The challenge for retail is to harness the personal need drivers behind this early spending, convert it into a continued desire to spend on more traditional gift items throughout the season, and do so in ways that extend beyond deep discounting." 

Big sales are rampant on Black Friday.
Big sales are rampant on Black Friday.

The firm also noted that dollar sales in the second week of November were 9% higher than the previous year. The categories of Small Home Appliances, Prestige Beauty, Apparel, and Athletic Footwear each saw double-digit percentage dollar growth versus last year.

Target (TGT - Get Report) has noted the hottest items that consumers have been snatching up at their store locations so far. Among the favorites are Apple Inc.  (AAPL - Get Report) iPads and watches, Microsoft's (MSFT - Get Report) Xbox One game console and Nintendo's (NTDOY) Switch.

But not all is going as planned on Black Friday. Walmart (WMT - Get Report) customers are reportedly furious with the retailer for running out of stock for its online Black Friday deals, for example.

Overall, however, "more agile inventory control, gift & value-driven assortment planning, opening time/day consistency, & improved digital integration will help drive profitable low single-digit growth," analysts at Cowen wrote. "A backdrop of cool/dry weather & likely more consistent traffic trends bodes well."

Americans are expected to spend between $679 billion and $682 billion in November and December this year, according to Statista.

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Editors' pick: Originally published Nov. 24.