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Posted on Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 10:56 a.m.

Black Friday traffic and spending reach historic highs with midnight openings

By Lizzy Alfs

Related story: Q&A: Cyber Monday: Online retail's biggest day is indicator for rest of holiday shopping season, Ann Arbor executive says

More shoppers than ever before braved the cold and crowds on Black Friday this year, signaling that midnight openings were a success for many retailers.

An estimated 226 million people visited stores and websites over the holiday weekend, up from 212 million in 2010, according to the National Retail Federation.

Total spending reached $52.4 billion, with the average shopper spending $398.62. Last year, shoppers spent an average $365.34.


Shoppers at Target waited in line to get new televisions on Black Friday this year.

Melanie Maxwell |

Among the top Black Friday purchases: Clothing and accessories, electronics, home decor, gift cards, toys and jewelry.

In Ann Arbor, thousands of people waited outside big-box stores and Briarwood Mall as retailers opened at midnight or earlier, like 9 or 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving night. Young people and first-time Black Friday shoppers dominated the crowds.

At the Best Buy on Lohr Road, people started camping out Wednesday to get the best deals - such as a 42 inch flat-screen TV for $199.

Both the traffic and spending broke Black Friday records nationwide, and it indicates that shoppers crave these early openings, said Phil Rist, BIGresearch executive vice president, in a release.

“The appetite for these early openings is only getting stronger among holiday shoppers, and retailers did a great job providing Americans just what they wanted this weekend - the ability to shop on Black Friday without having to get out of bed before dawn,” he said.

Of the 86.3 million shoppers that shopped on Black Friday, 24.4 percent were at the stores by midnight. In 2010, only 9.5 percent showed up to wait at stores by midnight, up from 3.3 percent in 2009.

For the rest of the holiday season, NRF is predicting sales to reach $465.6 billion, a 2.8 percent increase over 2010. Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 9:21 p.m.

When Black Friday comes I'm gonna dig myself a hole. Gonna lay down in it 'til I satisfy my soul


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 8:44 p.m.

I actually enjoyed Black Friday this year. I got up the same time I would to go to work and had my shopping done by 10. The stores were no more crowded than any day after work and all the lines were open so no waiting. Since most of the purchases are toys for local charities I had nice pricing (meaning more toys) and the aisle weren't full of people so I could linger longer. I do feel bad for all the people who have to work so early Friday and on Thanksgiving Day. The stores are getting ridiculous trying to out do each other. Are the profit/sales better because of it? I doubt it. If the door buster is that good people will still show up at 6 am even if someone else is open at midnight.


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 7:42 p.m.

"Both the traffic and spending broke Black Friday records nationwide, and it indicates that shoppers crave these early openings" No, the shoppers crave the loss-leaders that get them into the store. The waiting in line to get one of the limited number of these products has gotten to be too much. I'd much rather see retailers provide these items at a loss as long as customers spend additional dollars on other products. This is what they are hoping for in the first place. Might as well make it a part of the deal, then offer the good priced item to everyone. The other profits will make up for the loss-leader and no one will have to wait in line.


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 5:22 p.m.

This is the first year that I have disliked shopping Black Friday. This is a family tradition and the whole experience was tarnished. I believe the earlier start times changed the dynamics of the crowd - there were a lot more men out there this time. The lines were longer and the crowd rougher. The one good thing was that after refusing to join the lines, outside and inside, my daughter and I waited until about 2 hours after openings - we got everything we wanted and no long lines. Retailers were better stocked this year.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 5:21 p.m.

So in a couple of years, will it be renamed "Thanksbuying?" I think it's disgusting that people can't spend one day a year with family and friends being specifically thankful without going out and splurging on 'things' and making fools of themselves. I much prefer to make a fool of myself at home on Thanksgiving.


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 5:23 p.m.

We didn't go out on Thanksgiving - but the day after.