Black Friday Weekend Boom! Holiday sales up 10 percent over 2011

There are many traditions on Thanksgiving, from turkey to football, and perhaps an afternoon nap. But it's time to add a new one: T-Day shopping.

With many national chains opening and giving door-buster deals on Turkey Thursday instead of waiting for Black Friday, millions of shoppers waited in lines at stores around the U.S. on Thanksgiving afternoon and evening.

But Black Friday shopping still reigned supreme, according to the National Retail Federation. The organization's president and CEO Matthew Shay held a media briefing on Sunday to announce the results of the organization's annual Black Friday weekend survey of shopping activity.

The results: The Washington Redskins and New England Patriots won their NFL games, and the nation's businesses won big, too. More than 35 million Americans hit stores and websites on Thursday. That's an increase of more than 20 percent over Thanksgiving Day 2011. Over the entire shopping weekend, "a record 247 million shoppers (which includes the same shopper at different retailers) visited stores or websites over Black Friday weekend, up from 226 million last year." That's an increase of nearly ten percent.

Friday sales alone accounted for 47.5 percent of total sales, while 27 percent of sales were reported on Thanksgiving. The remaining were combined on Saturday and Sunday.

According to the survey, holiday shoppers spent an average of $423 this weekend, an increase from $398 in 2011. Total spending reached about $59 billion. The NRF is the largest worldwide trade association for retailers.

“From green beans to great deals, millions of Americans found time this Thanksgiving to make the most of retailers’ promotions and enjoy a special family holiday,” Shay said. “To keep their customers excited about holiday shopping, retailers will continue to offer attractive promotions through December, and provide strong consumer value with low prices, enhanced mobile and online offerings, and unique product assortment.”

Of course, not all post-turkey shopping is for gifts. The NRF reported that as many as 80 percent of shoppers were simply being practical in also making personal household purchases during the deeply discounted holiday weekend.

"Looking to get the best bang for their buck and eager to get their hands on exclusive product offerings, more than half (53.5%) of shoppers visited department stores this weekend, up from 48.7 percent last year. Additionally, consumers shopped at discount stores (39.4%), clothing stores (29.0%), electronics stores (33.0%), grocery stores (21.7%), and drug stores (12.7%). Taking advantage of retailers’ special online deals over the weekend, 43.8 percent of shoppers visited retailers’ websites, up from 35.2 percent last year. "

The survey was conducted by BIGinsight for the NRF. It polled 4,005 consumers and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.6%.

- Looking for tech gift ideas? Check out CPA Practice Advisor's annual gift guide: "Gadgets & Gifts 2012: Tech for the Holidays."