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Drug chains’ early holiday gift

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NEW YORK — This year’s holiday shopping season got off to a strong start, and drug chains were among the early winners.

According to a National Retail Federation (NRF) poll conducted by BIGresearch, 14% of the more than 3,800 consumers surveyed — representing a national sample of 18.4 million people — shopped at drug stores over the Black Friday weekend, up from 13.6% in 2010 and 13.4% in 2009.

The only other retail trade classes showing Black Friday weekend shopper gains for all three years were supermarkets (23.8% of shoppers in 2011), online merchants (35.2% in 2011), apparel and accessories stores (24.6% in 2011) and craft/fabric stores (7.9% in 2011).

Interestingly, fewer consumers said they shopped at discount stores and department stores, which were among the most aggressive promoters and advertisers of Black Friday weekend bargains.

According to the NRF poll, 37.5% of consumers reported shopping at discounters this Black Friday weekend, down from 40.3% in 2010 and 43.2% in 2009. And 48.7% said they shopped at department stores, a decrease from 52% in 2010 and 49.4% in 2009.

NRF said consumers spent a record $52.4 billion during the period, with the average holiday shopper spending $398.62, up from $365.34 last year.

Overall, a record 226 million shoppers visited stores and websites over the Black Friday weekend, up from 212 million last year.

The number of Thanksgiving Day and early bird shoppers this year was the highest ever for the poll, NRF noted. Nearly a quarter (24.4%) of Black Friday shoppers were at the stores by midnight on November 25. That was much higher than in the last two years, when 9.5% of shoppers polled said they were at the stores at midnight in 2010 and 3.3% said they did so in 2009.


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