By Michelle Graff
New York--The total number of unique shoppers over the holiday weekend--counting Black Friday, Saturday and Sunday as well as Thanksgiving Day--was up 1 percent year-over-year while the average spend per shopper fell 4 percent, National Retail Federation (NRF) data shows.

According to a poll conducted Friday and Saturday, more than 141 unique shoppers already had shopped or planned to shop by the end of the weekend, up from 139 million over the same time frame last year.

On average, shoppers spent $407.02 between Thursday and Sunday (planned), down from $423.55 in the same time frame last year.

The NRF data shows that 17 percent of consumers bought jewelry or precious metal accessories.

Clothing, purchased by 58 percent of consumers, was the most popular gift category, followed by consumer electronics or computer-related accessories (38 percent) and books/CDs/DVDs/videos/video games (36 percent).

In terms of where consumers shopped, the NRF poll indicates that the greatest percentage, 54 percent, browsed the aisles of department stores. The second most-shopped location was the Internet, visited by 42 percent of consumers.

A total of 13 percent of shoppers said they shopped at other specialty stores, the category that includes jewelry stores.

Pam Goodfellow, the consumer insights director for Prosper Insights & Analytics, the firm that conducted the survey for the NRF, said online shopping over Thanksgiving weekend continues to grow in popularity.

“With limited budgets this year, holiday shoppers will continue to make very thoughtful decisions about when and where they shop the remainder of the season, making sure to compare prices and keep up with retailers’ advertisements for special sales,” she said in an NRF news release.

The weekend after Thanksgiving marks the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving said to push retailers into the black (profitability) for the year, traditionally has been the day people attempt to work off that turkey and stuffing with a trip to the mall or local big-box strip center.

This year, however, more stores were open on Thanksgiving Day, and NRF data shows that consumers were taking advantage of the turkey-day deals: about 45 million shoppers went to the stores on Thanksgiving, up 29 percent from 35 million last year.

Despite the increased number of stores open for all or a portion of Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday remained the most heavily trafficked day, with more than 92 million people, or 65 percent of all weekend shoppers, hitting the stores that day.

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