A strong early start to the holiday shopping season should help retailers post better-than-expected results for November, especially among sellers of non-essential items, such as apparel stores.

Analysts are projecting major merchants will see 3% to 4% increases in November sales over the same month last year when they report tallies on Thursday. More importantly, they are expecting the momentum will carry on throughout the holiday season and help retailers post real sales growth again, following the two recession holidays of 2008 and 2009.

After several months of unseasonable weather, November cooled down to more winter-like temperatures and retailers revved up their deals to entice early holiday shopping.

Teens Were Out Spending

Most analysts noted strong foot traffic at malls around the country on Black Friday -- the day after Thanksgiving that marks the official opening of the holiday season -- as many merchants opened around the clock and laid out promotions online to draw early birds. But the promotions were not overly aggressive and inventories seemed under control -- a good sign for retailers, notes Robert Samuels, analyst at Phoenix Partners Group.

Among the standout retailers at the malls, he singles out department stores, Forever 21, the Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister chains of Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF), the Gap and Old Navy units of Gap Inc. (GPS) and Limited Brands' (LTD) Victoria's Secret chain.

There was anecdotal evidence that teenagers were out shopping more during Black Friday weekend sales, and their shopping is a good proxy for discretionary spending, according to Thompson Reuters analyst Jharonne Martis, who's projecting a 3.6% monthly sales increase. Additionally, the unemployment rate is stable, and expected to come in at 9.6% in November for the third month in a row, another good sign for retail spending, Martis said in a report.

"Spending power is there, [consumer] confidence is not. And retailers are tapping that spending power with some clever promotions," says Scott Krugman, vice president of the National Retail Federation.

December Could Stay Hot

And shoppers aren't expected to lose steam after Black Friday. Michael Niemira, chief economist of the International Council of Shopping Centers, noted in a report that the average percentage of holiday shopping completed by the end of the Thanksgiving weekend was only 32.6%, far lower than in recent years.

That "suggests that December will continue to see brisk sales as consumers 'catch up' on the completion of their holiday-gift buying," he wrote. The ICSC is projecting sales will rise between 3% and 4% in November over last year.

While Black Friday weekend sales were stronger than expected -- especially thanks to sales at stores that opened on Thanksgiving day -- the NRF has not revised its forecast of 2.3% growth in sales this holiday season over 2009. However, Krugman noted that the NRF will be looking closely at Commerce Department sales numbers that come out Dec. 14, to see if they're tracking higher than expected. Don't be surprised if NRF revises its forecast higher then, he warns.

"Many analysts had a concern that we were robbing Peter to pay Paul," on Black Friday, says Krugman. "And that did not happen."

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Attention my Christen friends, as you venture out to spend your hard earned money to buy someone you care for a Christmas gift look around you, if you happen to be in Macys, Norstrom, some Sears you will not see any words “Merry Christmas”. As a matter of fact you will not see the word Christmas in any sales literature, on any store display or on the outside of the store. They want our money however, when it comes to insults “they” will see to it we Christens have our faces rubbed in the mud. For the last few years I have shopped in small Mom & Pop stores. What a difference,sales persons don’t have an attitude, I do not have to say excuse me because some little bastard is on the cell phone, and I am not made to feel they are doing me a favor taking my money. Some even say “have a Merry Christmas” as opposed to freken Happy Holidays. Remember America is a Christen Nation it was founded by Christens, those who do not wish to acknowledge one of our most important holidays should not be rewarded by receiving our hard earned money. Better yet leave go back to the filth ridden country you came from. 12% of the population should not control or destroy our heritage. ACLU can stick it where the sun doesn’t shine. OH and MERRY CHRISTMAS, Happy New Year and stay out of MACY’s

December 01 2010 at 9:31 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to db's comment

If you are a Christian, maybe you could learn how to spell it. And there is nothing inherently "Christian" about going to Nordstroms to buy a cashmere scarf for somebody (Jesus never said, "Go forth and shop in honor of my birthday!") Christmas is only one of the holidays celebrated during this season and many of the traditional "Christmas" traditions are founded not in the teachings of Christ, but in paganism. (Again, nowhere did Christ direct people to drag a tree into the house and decorate it with lights and tinsel in His honor.)If some retailers do not say Merry CHRISTmas, it is because they do not choose to offend people who do not celebrate as you do. SHOPPING is not a religious activity! Christ taught that we are all (all humans) the same in the eyes of God--including people who don't know Him. If you were really a Christian, you would not have the hate in your heart that allows you to talk about others and "the filth ridden country" they came from. Seems like more than enough filth in your own home.

December 01 2010 at 10:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Thomas Braun

They BS the public about how sales were up this holiday season. Are they really sales or just more charges that people won't be able to pay for when the bills become due ?????? By sales I would think they should write about how people pay. Cash sales or charges because chrages are then often times not paid for. I guess that's the American way....spend...spend....spend and then forget about paying.

December 01 2010 at 9:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

up 3 or 4% from dismal numbers last year is good news? we have to call it that i guess. the question is--is everyone done shopping because they were attracted by pre black fridays, actual black friday and all the inet deals on free shipping. we are done, and just about everyone i talk to is either done or most of the way done. better wait until season is over to evaluate.

December 01 2010 at 8:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply