With Black Friday now a memory, the holiday shopping season is officially under way.
The National Retail Federation has predicted holiday sales will rise about 4 percent from last year. Based on that estimate, holiday sales would be about $586 billion for the holiday season, which includes November and December.
This year, the deals started earlier, with some stores opening on Thanksgiving and other retailers offering deals online for people who wanted to shop from the comfort of their homes.
More than 35 million people across the country shopped on Thanksgiving, both at stores and online, according to the National Retail Federation. About 29 million shopped on the holiday last year.
Walmart and Sears opened at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving; Target opened at 9 p.m. Many other retailers, such as Best Buy, waited until midnight.
Tony Quintero, manager of the Walmart on Loop 288, said by opening earlier, the retailer allowed customers to shop at its stores before going on to other retailers.
“It was a safe event,” he said. There were no customer incidents, and employees at the Denton store did not participate in strikes and walkouts reported in other cities.
Over the weekend, 247 million people shopped in stores and online for a total estimated at $59.1 billion spent, according to data released Sunday by the National Retail Federation. About 89 million of those people shopped Friday.
The average shopper that weekend spent $423, which is up from last year, the retail association reported.
At Golden Triangle Mall, car counts were up 20 percent Friday, compared with Black Friday last year, and they were up about 14 percent for the entire week, mall manager Matt Ludemann said.
The stores in the mall staggered their openings for Black Friday.
Many stores opened at midnight, followed by Ross Dress for Less at 4 a.m., JCPenney at 6 a.m. and Dillard’s at 8 a.m.
Based on feedback from tenants, Ludemann said that Friday was a solid day for sales, and Saturday and Sunday were comparable to the same weekend last year.
This will be a normal week for the mall, and then holiday shopping will really pick back up again about the second week of December, he said.
The holiday shopping weekend didn’t end Sunday. Many people shopped online on Cyber Monday. Some also shopped online for Black Friday deals.
The average shopper spent $172.42 online over the holiday weekend, according to the retail federation. About 27 percent of shoppers the retail association surveyed said they shopped online on Thanksgiving and about 47.5 percent said they shopped Friday.
An estimated 129.2 million people were expected to shop online Monday, according to a preliminary survey from the retail association.
The final number of Cyber Monday shoppers will be released today by the National Retail Federation.
While Cyber Monday is aimed at online sales, the holiday also gives Walmart stores a boost in sales and business if customers choose “Site to Store,” choosing to pick up what they ordered online from the store.
Quintero said his Walmart gets more activity each year because of Cyber Monday sales.
At this point, nothing is flying off the shelves, Quintero said, but Furby, a furry robotic toy, is expected to be a hot item.
He said he’s optimistic for the rest of the holiday shopping season.
RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.