Retailers happy with Black Friday turnout

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SALT LAKE CITY -- For many stores, nationally and locally, Christmas is getting off to a very good start.

Retailers are happy with the way the post-Thanksgiving weekend went. An economist told KSL this past shopping weekend is crucial in setting the tone for the rest of the holiday season, and this was a good weekend for Utahns.

The lights turned on at Temple Square, the Utah Jazz, on a roll, beat the LA Lakers at home, and we had snow, lots and lots of snow. Utah is feeling good!

Economist Natalie Gochnour said, "It's all about consumer attitudes and sentiments, how they feel throughout the season."

The National Retail Federation trade group estimated on Sunday that 212 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend, up from 195 million last year.

Gochnour said though no hard numbers are in for how stores in Utah faired on Black Friday, she's sure it will be good.

"We do know retail sales in the state turned positive in the second quarter in 2010, the first time in two years," she said.

A report from the Gateway, on traffic and parking, tells a lot about consumer spending, even without official numbers.

"We're up over last year. That's great, even with the BYU-Utah game being on Saturday, those are great numbers to see," spokeswoman Heather Nash said.


More good news -- the state's first ever Small Business Saturday, a campaign encouraging people to buy locally the Saturday after black Friday, worked!

Chris Brozek, with Slow Train record store, said, "I'd say, without numbers, we were probably up about 30 percent from last year on that specific day."

The Local First organization is extending the Small Business Saturday concept through the rest of the week, stating for every $10 spent at a local business, $4.50 stays in Utah, compared to $1.40 at a chain store.

Nationally, Black Friday sales rose .3 percent from last year, to $10.7 billion. More folks went out shopping, too. Even if they didn't spend money, consumer traffic rose 2.2 percent, according to ShopperTrak.

As for Utah, Gochnour says numbers prove we are out of a two year recession.

"Things are better, businesses are growing, the Utah economy is growing, and things are getting better," she said. Online shopping also increased this weekend, though we don't have numbers for Cyber Monday yet because they day is not over. According to comScore, online shopping for Black Friday jumped 9 percent from last year, totaling $648 million.


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Amanda Butterfield


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