According to the Christmas & Holiday Shopping Forecast released today by America's Research Group and Inmar, of those who shopped Black Friday weekend, consumers were disappointed in the lack of big early bird specials on Friday morning which they had come to expect. More consumers felt that there were a greater number of early-bird specials in stock last year (50.4 percent vs. 63.5 percent last year), and that specials were not as aggressively priced. More people shopped in fewer stores this year over last year. Thirty percent (which tops last year's 24.2) percent report that they shopped in just two stores Thursday and Friday. The number of consumers who shopped in three or four stores dropped from 30 percent last year to 22 percent this past Thursday and Friday.

"Despite early-bird special disappointment, consumers still spent more this past weekend than they had planned, largely due to deals beings too good to pass up," said Britt Beemer, chairman and CEO of America's Research Group.

The survey also shows a record high increase for consumers spending more than $750 Thursday and Friday — 18.6 percent this year compared with 9.5 percent last year.

As America's Research Group predicted, consumer electronics were the hot items this Black Friday weekend. "Computers and flat panel TVs flew off the shelves," said Beemer. "Laptops, notebooks and tablets showed an increase from 9.5 percent to 20 percent this year, and Walmart took the largest market share."

Other top gift items this Thanksgiving weekend were video games (up 6.9 percent over last year's 2.3 percent); while toys took a big fall from 34 percent last year to 18.6 percent this year. And when asked about Cyber Monday shopping, 23.5 percent of consumers said they plan to shop online Monday for Christmas gifts, down from 29.2 percent last year.

"National retailers should be very concerned that consumers feel the early bird specials on Friday were not exceptional," said Beemer. "In general, consumers are feeling better overall about spending more and retailers would be wise to better entice them to pull out the plastic."

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