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Black Friday less than bleak
Better-than-expected sales raise retailer hopes

“Despite dire predictions from many analysts and much of the media,” said Brian Sullivan in Fox Business online, “Americans actually went shopping this weekend,” and in greater numbers than last year. According to National Retail Federation estimates, 172 million U.S. shoppers hit the stores Thanksgiving weekend and spent $372.57 each. We are a “shopping culture,” even in bad times, and we don’t “drop off a retail cliff” very often.

Alright, there was a “slight improvement” in retail sales, said Douglas McIntyre in BloggingStocks, but because the sales were based on deep discounts, “that may not mean much to retailer bottom lines.” Losing money on every sale is a “sucker play,” as shareholders will find out, and you can’t make up losses on volume.

The fact that spending isn’t down, said Justin Fox in Time online, could be “a sign that things aren’t nearly as bad as many (myself included) thought.” After all, while spending on cars and big-ticket home goods is down, people are “still headed for the Wal-Mart.” But the healthy shopping figures could also mean that “when everybody wakes up" in January, “things will really go off a cliff.”

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