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As Cyber Monday approaches, Black Friday sets new records

Black Friday this year set new records for in-store and online buying. Despite high unemployment and a generally worrisome economy, nearly half of all Americans went shopping.

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Shoppers stop to look at a display while shopping at Dadeland Mall in Miami on Black Friday. First reports indicate new records were set this year for in-store and online retail shopping.

Lynne Sladky/AP

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Black Friday this year appears to have set records for consumer frenzy – and not just in fisticuffs, pepper spray, and mall parking lot rage.

According to ShopperTrak, which counts retail and mall foot traffic, Black Friday sales increased 6.6 percent over the same day last year, totaling $11.40 billion in retail purchases – the biggest dollar amount ever spent during the day.

“Despite our sluggish economy, shoppers proved they are looking for value and ready to buy if given a good customer experience,” said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin in a statement. “This is the largest year-over-year gain in ShopperTrak’s National Retail Sales Estimate for Black Friday since the 8.3 percent increase we saw between 2007 and 2006.”

Part of the increase this year is tied to ever-earlier sales, some on Thanksgiving night. This includes early online sales as well. Record numbers of pre-promotions and extended shopping hours in the weeks leading up to Black Friday account for some of these increases, according to ShopperTrak.

IBM’s Coremetrics retail benchmark (based on more than one million transactions at 500 retailers nationwide) shows that “shoppers took advantage of early sales this holiday driving a 39.3 percent increase in online Thanksgiving day spending while setting the stage for 24.3 percent online growth on Black Friday compared to the same period last year.”

The National Retail Federation (NRF) was expecting 152 million Americans to shop on Black Friday – up from 138 million last year and nearly half the US population.

The NRF also notes increased use of social media in finding bargains and therefore boosting buying.

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