CHICAGO (Press Release - Nov. 26, 2011) - Retailers can breathe a sigh of relief. The holiday shopping season started strong, with bigger crowds spending more dollars than ever before. According to ShopperTrak - the world's largest provider of retail and mall foot-traffic counting services - Black Friday sales increased 6.6 percent over the same day last year. This represents $11.40 billion in retail purchases and the biggest dollar amount ever spent during the day. Retail foot-traffic rose accordingly, increasing by 5.1 percent over Black Friday 2010. "Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year and the traditional start to the holiday shopping season," said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin. "Despite our sluggish economy, shoppers proved they are looking for value and ready to buy if given a good customer experience. "This is the largest year-over-year gain in ShopperTrak's National Retail Sales Estimate for Black Friday since the 8.3 percent increase we saw between 2007 and 2006. Still, it's just one day. It remains to be seen whether consumers will sustain this behavior through the holiday shopping season." Consumers still 'value-conscious' Black Friday's strong showing came on the heels of a very good November for retailers. Sales were up 3.6 percent during the week of Nov. 12. They also were up 3.8 percent during the week of Nov. 19, the week before Black Friday. Record numbers of pre-promotions and extended shopping hours in the weeks leading up to Black Friday account for some of these increases. "Retailers continue to stretch out Black Friday weekend by enticing shoppers with door-buster deals weeks in advance," said Martin, "and yesterday consumers were especially bullish. Granted, the economy is still sputtering, but slight increases in the employment rate mean fewer workers fear layoffs. While consumers are still extremely value-conscious, they clearly responded to retailer price reductions and 'door-buster' promotions." According to ShopperTrak, today's customers visit fewer stores per shopping trip, with an average 3.1 this holiday season \u2014 down from 3.19 last year \u2014 but are also more likely to buy when they enter the store. Holiday shoppers look for sales and research purchases online beforehand. Given a strong Black Friday, however, and the possibility of a drop-off in the coming weeks, retailers will need to work extra hard to convert knowledgeable browsers into buyers, Martin said. Black Friday's historical performance According to ShopperTrak, retailers rely on the sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas to make up 20 percent of their annual take. Last year, Black Friday showed an increase in both sales and foot traffic over 2009; foot traffic increased 2.2 percent and sales increased 0.3 percent. The increase represents $10.69 billion in consumer spending and the largest dollar amount ever spent on the day \u2014 until this year. Black Friday 2011 outpaced last year's record and will likely be the top performing sales- and foot-traffic day for the seventh year in a row. About ShopperTrak ShopperTrak provides cutting-edge retail intelligence solutions enabling retail companies to count and benchmark their retail foot traffic at the national, regional and local levels to better understand trends and determine the impact of store and staff performance on company revenues. With more than 40,000 units installed in the world's best known retail outlets and malls and more than 15 years of retail expertise, ShopperTrak is the industry's authority for information and analysis of the movement of shoppers in retail environments. ShopperTrak offers a managed service to provide the most accurate retail foot traffic counting service available. The company's solutions provide a proven means for retailers to gauge labor efficiencies, advertising and marketing efforts, store design and remodeling programs, merchandise changes, associate training programs, and other budget-intensive strategic initiatives. ShopperTrak is a privately held entity headquartered in Chicago, Ill. For more information, visit www.shoppertrak.com.