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Opinion: Black Friday Boosts Economic Recovery

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The biggest shopping day of the year has now become an extended shopping weekend. Black Friday weekend begins as early as 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day and runs through Cyber Monday when online retailers offer their comparable deals. National Retail Federation (NRF) President and CEO Matthew Shay stated, “Like pumpkin pie and football, Thanksgiving Day shopping is quickly becoming a holiday tradition for millions of Americans.” Despite the current state of our economy, this Black Friday weekend attracted more shoppers than ever before.

After the turkey and trimmings were gone, as many as 35 million shoppers hurried to lines at large retail stores for their Thanksgiving Day sales. According to the NRF, a total of $59 billion was spent this weekend, averaging $423 per shopper, increasing from $398 per shopper last year.

The NRF also reported a record of over 247 million shoppers who visited stores and websites over the Black Friday weekend, up from 226 million last year. By midnight Friday morning, 28 percent of weekend shoppers were in lines, when approximately 89 million shoppers faced the crowds.

The extension of the Black Friday weekend helps retail stores compete with online retailers, in addition to their layaway and price matching programs. It also affects the 40 percent of consumers who start their Christmas shopping before Halloween, so retailers now begin putting greeting cards and decorations on the shelves as early as September.

It’s no exaggeration that the current economy is in a recession, but is it as bad as the media and other sources are making it to be? In a recession, shoppers should be cautious of discretionary spending, but this was certainly not the case this past weekend. Was the elaboration of 2012’s Black Friday weekend a new tradition or an attempt to stimulate our declined economy?

Holiday shopping has more economic impact than just the increase in shoppers. The NRF predicted between 585,000 and 625,000 seasonal employees to be hired by retailers across the country. When stores hire extra employees to work as cashiers, stockers, etc., that puts more money into the pockets of low and middle class Americans who then likely inject that money into the economy during the holiday season.

With 33 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, holiday shoppers have extra time to make their purchases, and an extra weekend to wrap up their shopping. In the past few years, many retailers have offered Black Friday-like deals through the month of December to increase holiday sales throughout the whole season. Will this year’s holiday shopping boost our economy? About two-thirds of our economy is dependent on consumer spending, and judging by the outcome of Black Friday weekend, we will see plenty of holiday shopping this season.

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