CHICAGO, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- U.S. shoppers spent a record $11.4 billion on Black Friday with sales up 6.6 percent from last year, a retail research firm said.
The firm, ShopperTrak, said owners of retail firms "can breath a sigh of relief," as sales were markedly higher during the post-Thanksgiving sales event that brought millions of shoppers out to malls across the country.
ShopperTrak said foot traffic rose by 5.1 percent over Black Friday 2010.
Overall, it was the largest year-over-year gain in sales since Black Friday of 2007 when sales rose 8.3 percent over 2006.
"Despite our sluggish economy, shoppers proved they are looking for value and ready to buy if given a good customer experience," said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin.
ShopperTrak said customers were making fewer stops per shopping trip, stopping at an average of 3.1 stores per trip this holiday season, a decline from 3.19 stores per trip last year.
However, shoppers are "also more likely to buy when they enter the store," ShopperTrak said.
The next test, of course, is whether stores can parlay Black Friday momentum into season-long gains.
Retailers on average do 20 percent of their annual sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas, making the holiday shopping season an all-important month-long sales event.
Amazon.com said the Kindle Fire tablet computer released eight weeks ago saw sales soar on Black Friday.
"Customers purchased four times as many Kindle devices as they did last Black Friday, and last year was a great year," said Dave Limp, vice president Amazon Kindle.
"Even before the busy holiday shopping weekend, we'd already sold millions of the new Kindle family and Kindle Fire was the bestselling product across all of Amazon.com," Limp said.