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holiday shopping

One day does not make or break a holiday shopping season, but the preliminary Black Friday numbers aren’t looking promising …

According to the National Retail Federation, 195 million people shopped in stores and online over the Black Friday holiday weekend, which is up 13.4% from last year’s total of 172 million shoppers. These bargain-hunters spent less, though, with average “per shopper” spending dipping from $372.57 last year to $343.31 this year – an eight percent decline.

Add all that math up and you’re looking at an estimated $41.2 billion in sales for the three-day weekend – which is up only marginally from 2008’s total of $41 billion.

Last year, you’ll recall, was the worst shopping season in nearly half a century – which has helped drive the record unemployment we’re seeing across the country.

How so?

Well, you wouldn’t know it from the anti-capitalist policies coming out of Washington D.C. these days, but consumer spending is what drives the American economy – accounting for 70% of our nation’s gross domestic product.

So … when government sucks up all the oxygen from the private sector, bad things happen.

Incidentally, these disappointing numbers for the first weekend of the 2009 holiday shopping season are in line with initial in-store results from Black Friday itself.  According to those figures – compiled by ShopperTrak – estimated in-store receipts stood at $10.66 billion (not counting online sales).

That represented an increase of less than half a percent from last year’s $10.6 billion haul.

Again, it’s too early to say whether or not the 2009 holiday shopping season will pick up steam, but it’s certainly not off to a good start.