As usual, the Friday after Thanksgiving offered little specific sales data but lots of anecdotes from shoppers, merchants and retail analysts. Most everyone says that stores were jammed during the early doorbuster hours, but shoppers were selective about their purchases. The seasonís first real test comes Saturday and Sunday. Last year, post-Thanksgiving business slowed down considerably after the early rush on Friday, and this year will probably be the same. With 32 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas - the longest possible stretch - shoppers might well hold off until retailers come up with more bargains. The NYT story is a bit gloomier than the WSJ roundup, but take all the early returns with a grain of salt. All told, look for sales to be up 3 percent to 4 percent over last year - somewhere between horrible and terrific.
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