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Last Updated: Monday, 26 November 2007, 12:46 GMT
Black Friday sales beat forecasts
Shoppers wait to pay for their goods
More people went shopping, but spending per person was down
Sales at the beginning of the holiday shopping season in the US have increased significantly despite economic worries, a report says.

Research group ShopperTrak RCT said sales rose 8.3% to $10.3bn (4.9bn) on Black Friday, the day following Thanksgiving, compared with a year ago.

Black Friday typically sees up to 5% of all holiday sales, the report said.

But other research suggested that consumers were spending less than in previous years.

Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak, said Black Friday results were "very encouraging".

"When you look at September and October, shoppers weren't in the stores," he added.

Spending falls

The National Retail Federation said the number of shoppers over the whole Thanksgiving weekend rose 4.8% to 147 million customers from the previous year.

While we are encouraged by our strong start, it is still early in the holiday season
J.C Penney, a department store chain

But at the same time, customers spent $347.44 per person, 3.5% less than a year ago, hunting for deep discounts offered by retailers.

These factors made the weekend's total spending results "extremely similar" to last year, a federation spokeswoman said.

The National Retail Federation didn't change its forecast for combined November and December holiday sales after the Thanksgiving weekend's results.

It predicts the sales will grow by 4%, the slowest since 2001, when sales were up 1.3%.

The cautious outlook has been caused by a falling US housing market, a credit crunch, and rising food and fuel costs.

Most experts and retailers have expressed caution over the outlook for the whole festive shopping season.

"While we are encouraged by our strong start, it is still early in the holiday season, and we are mindful of the headwinds consumers are facing," J.C Penney, a department store chain cautioned.

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