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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - More Americans went bargain shopping on Black Friday this year than ever before, and they started earlier than ever.
"I could lay down on one of these couches and just pass out right now," one exhausted shopper told WBTV.
According to the National Retail Federation, a record 226 million people shopped online and in stores over the Thanksgiving holiday, and the average person spent more too - practically $400. In all, shoppers spent $52 billion. That's a new high.
Belk called it its biggest Black Friday ever...economists like Wells Fargo's Mark Vitner call it a gift to the market.
"The stock market opened to the upside about 300 points this morning and it was really driven by the better than expected holiday sales," Vitner says. "It's kind of funny...last week everybody was worried that the world was slipping into the abyss."
The total bill for Black Friday shoppers was almost $1 billion more this year than last. Now retailers are left with two questions - First, can they count on shoppers for the remainder of the holiday season if they don't continue to slash their sales tags?
And, second, did they even order enough merchandise to ride out this holiday's reversal in fortune?
"This year, retailers have gone into the season with relatively lean inventory so I don't expect to see as many promotions," Vitner says.
One thing retailers certainly did right, though, at least from an economic perspective anyway -moving Black Friday hours up into Thursday evening. It brought a new, younger demographic to their doors, and more money to their registers.
Almost a quarter of Black Friday shoppers were pulling their wallets out by midnight, according to the NRF, and 37% of those spenders were in the 18 to 34 age group.