Shoppers line up for Black Friday sales outside the Best Buy electronics store in Westbury, New York
Shoppers line up for Black Friday sales outside the Best Buy electronics store in Westbury, New York November 26, 2010. REUTERS

Despite the big build-up, retail sales on Black Friday were rather tepid.

According to data from ShopperTrak, a Chicago-based retail data analysis firm, sales edged up a mere 0.3 percent from the same day last year. On the whole, consumers spent an estimated $10.69 billion, a slight improvement over the $10.66-billion spent on Black Friday 2009.

While sales were essentially flat, ShopperTrak noted that total U.S. foot traffic increased by 2.2 percent on Black Friday which suggests a shoppers motivated by various sales and promotions.

ShopperTrak initially predicted 3.2 percent increase in retail sales and 1.0 percent rise in total U.S. foot traffic rise for the 2010 holiday shopping season.

“Deal-driven consumers undoubtedly fired the first salvo this holiday shopping season as they visited malls and retail outlets at a stronger pace than last year, but only spent slightly more throughout the day,” said Bill Martin, co-founder and executive vice president of ShopperTrak.

“This means the American shopper has adapted to the economic climate over the last couple of years and is possibly spending more wisely as the holiday season begins.”

ShopperTrak also said its data showed that “early holiday sales and door-buster promotions impacted Friday’s performance” as the company saw some unexpected strength in early November -- as sales and traffic for the first two weeks of the month through November 13 increased by 6.1 and 6.2 percent, respectively, versus the same two week period in 2009.

ShopperTrak chief Bill Martin noted this early boost could impact retail performance beyond Black Friday and into the weeks leading into Super Saturday.

“Retailers were very conscious of driving traffic early in November and in doing so some might have thinned Black Friday spending a bit,” Martin said.

“The reality is we have a deal-driven consumer in 2010 and that consumer responded to some of the earliest deep discounts we’ve even seen for the holidays. Additionally, a percentage of retailers concentrated on pushing folks to their Websites with various online only sales which most likely influenced Black Friday performance as well.”

Martin added however, that U.S. retailers still saw a record amount of money spent on Friday “so it’s hard to say Black Friday wasn’t a success, it’s just not the success we saw in the mid 2000’s when the day really became a phenomenon with the American public. And if retailers continue the pattern of early sales and online promotions, this could be the new norm in Black Friday performance.”

By geography, the Northeast witnessed a 1.7 percent increase in retail sales over 2009, while the Midwest saw a 0.4 percent gain, the West was flat and sales in the South actually edged down by 0.3 percent.