Economic struggles are no match for holiday shoppers

Despite the projected slowing in holiday spending, this past weekend, known to many as âÄúBlack Friday weekend,âÄù saw a dramatic increase in consumer spending from 2007. According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, more than 172.8 million adults shopped this weekend, making it the biggest Black Friday weekend ever, with nearly 42.6 percent of those shoppers going out the Friday after Thanksgiving. On average, each shopper spent about $372 this weekend, a 7.2 percent increase from 2007, according to the NRF. The NRF projected a 2.2 percent national sales gain over the holiday months, and despite the high-revenue weekend, NRF spokesman Scott Krugman said he expects the spending to slow down. âÄúIf past years are any indication, consumers tend to slow down their shopping after Black Friday and then pick up again the week before and the week after Christmas,âÄù he said. Krugman said the weekend numbers were high because of the high demand for discounts and the heightened purchase of large items, such as high definition televisions. Len Roussel , senior Geek Squad employee at Best Buy in Roseville, said his store saw its highest sales numbers ever on the day after Thanksgiving. He attributed this increase to an influx in the purchase of home entertainment equipment as a result of the rise in movie ticket prices. The many hundreds of people lined up outside made it difficult to tell that there was an ongoing economic crisis, Roussel said. He said the Roseville Best BuyâÄôs year-by-year sales are up so far despite the economy, and the newly remodeled store may draw some new people in. Another newly remodeled store near the University of Minnesota saw a spike in sales this weekend as well. The Minneapolis Northeast Target store in The Quarry shopping center also increased its sales from last yearâÄôs Black Friday, store team leader Daren Muscha said. While some stores had longer and bigger sales, Target did not change its annual Black Friday strategy. âÄúI didnâÄôt really see a very apparent strategy by Target to make prices even better than ever before,âÄù he said. âÄúI think this year we steered the course like we always have.âÄù But not everybody was out shopping the day after Thanksgiving. Family social science professor Bill Doherty said nearly 300 people attended an anti-Black Friday event at Unity Church-Unitarian in St. Paul . âÄúI think itâÄôs become the cultural symbol of consumer excess, of competition for deals and for beginning the holiday season on a note of franticness,âÄù he said. âÄúItâÄôs become kind of a cultural symbol of excess.âÄù He said some people have engaged in violence for deals, noting the trampling death of a Wal-Mart employee as an example of the âÄúunregulated greedâÄù in America. The economy did change the way at least one student approached this consumerist holiday. Neuroscience senior Kathleen Kane said she went shopping on Black Friday but did not buy anything. âÄúI know my family is definitely scaling down this year,âÄù she said. âÄúWeâÄôre doing Secret Santa instead of getting gifts for everyone.âÄù Kane said she visited Target, Circuit City , Best Buy, Borders and Wal-Mart with her friends but was not interested in the sales on the high-priced items, like televisions. While some people are cutting back, the numbers indicate that Black Friday remained a success. âÄúIt felt like another day at the office on Black Friday,âÄù Muscha said.