'Strong' Black Friday Spending Hits Record High

PHOTO: Black Friday Sales
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Shoppers hungry for Black Friday deals came out in droves, creating more mayhem than anyone can remember, but thankfully for retailers, they also spent at record levels, according to retail analysts.

"We were expecting Black Friday openings to be very strong. I don't know anybody was expected that they were going to be this strong," National Retail Federation vice president Ellen Davis told ABC News Radio.

According to a survey conducted for the National Retail Federation, a combined 226 million people visited brick-and-mortar and online stores during the four-day Black Friday shopping window, which is an increase of 14 million shoppers from last year.

Consumers cumulatively spent an estimated $52 billion during the holiday shopping rush, which kicked off on Thanksgiving Day at some retailers, according to the survey, which was conducted by online market research firm BIGresearch.

"Consumers are clearly demonstrating their desire to spend this holiday season, and shopping early and often seem to be their new mantra as they seek the best value for all their holiday purchases," BIGresearch executive vice president Phil Rist said in a statement.

The average holiday shopper spent $398.62 this weekend. up from $365.34 last year.

Online consumers spent an average of $150.53 on Black Friday deals, something that is expected to increase into Cyber Monday, when online retailers traditionally offer deep discounts and other incentives, such as free shipping.

Shoppers broke almost every record for Thanksgiving weekend, but retail expert Marshal Cohen said what's important is what people bought.

"Forty-four percent of consumers told us that they've only really bought for themselves so far, that leaves a lot of gift shopping still to be had," Cohen said.

"When the consumer psyche is positive, they go out and they buy more product. They go beyond their gift list. They buy more product for themselves," he said.

More than half of shoppers purchased clothing and nearly four out of 10 shoppers bought electronic items, including gaming systems such as the XBox, which allegedly caused a Los Angeles woman to pepper spray her fellow shoppers to ensure she scored one of the discounted gaming consoles.

The survey, which was conducted from Nov. 24-26, polled 3,826 consumers and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.6 percent.

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