Although the early returns were mixed, the general consensus seems to be that retailers had a decent Black Friday (albeit given what were significantly lower expectations), but didn't see that momentum carry over into the weekend despite the continued availability of deep discounts. Black Friday is not as critical as it once was in making or breaking retailers' performances for the year; however, the recession (it's official, folks) makes the official start to the holiday shopping season a key benchmark to determine whether consumers will open their wallets more or just buy the heavily discounted LCD TV and go home.

The signs are not very encouraging thus far. True, spending did increase compared to last year and lower gas prices have freed up a chunk of the consumer budget, but survey results suggest that the deteriorating labor markets and other economic woes are weighing greatly on consumer sentiment. Add to this the fact that a larger share of consumers is reporting they are further along in their buying plans compared to a year ago, and there is a possibility that the Black Friday blitz may be the last for some retailers.


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