Nightly News | November 26, 2011
LESTER HOLT, anchor: shoppers and retailers alike welcome some beautiful weather over much of the nation today. As the opening weekend of the holiday shopping season continued, new figures out tonight indicate a strong start. Sales up more than 6 percent over last year. Buyers spent $11.4 billion on Black Friday . That's up nearly $1 billion from a year ago. We get more now from NBC 's John Yang .
6.6% Black Friday Sales $11.4 Billion
JOHN YANG reporting: Across the country, the weekend shopping spree continues full force.
President BARACK OBAMA: You doing some Christmas shopping ?
YANG: At a Washington bookstore, the first family got into the act. Early numbers show shopping's been particularly strong online. According to IBM Coremetrics , Black Friday Internet buying jumped nearly 25 percent over last year, and a whopping 39 percent on Thanksgiving Day .
24.3% Thanksgiving Day
Ms. PATTI FREEMAN EVANS (Forrester Research Group): It's getting bigger and bigger and bigger every year. About $60 million -- sorry, $60 billion is actually going to be transacted online this year.
YANG: Analysts say it's driven by the search for the best possible deals.
Unidentified Woman #1: I'm going to be spending less because we just don't know what the future holds.
Unidentified Woman #2: Once I've reached my limit, that's it. So everything's at a budget.
YANG: But not everyone's feeling the pinch. Analysts say the affluent are looking for the highest quality possible or the latest most innovative products.
Ms. DANA TELSEY (Telsey Advisory Group): We're seeing higher tickets being sold. They may not buy as much, but they're buying the items that are the most expensive. At the low end it is all about the price. The deals that are out there, they're extensive and they're coming at all different times.
YANG: Layaway is one way retailers like Walmart are trying to appeal to budget-conscious shoppers. It allows them to make small payments over time before actually getting the product. Jihyra Merced 's trying it for the first time .
Ms. JIHYRA MERCED: It was just a good deal. We couldn't pass it off and if we could pay for it slowly, why not?
YANG: Financial experts say it can help consumers with bad credit but urge them to read the fine print because it can end up being more expensive than using a credit card. And there are other potential pitfalls, too.
Mr. NICK LaFLEUR (Better Business Bureau): There are some retailers that if you -- if you make three or four payments and decide you don't want the product, you won't be able to get a refund and you're out the money and you're not going to get the products.
YANG: It's a risk some are willing to take to try to ensure a merry Christmas even in a gloomy economy. John Yang , NBC News, New York.