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Black Friday bonanza: NRF predicts 134 million shoppers

The National Retail Federation is predicting up to 134 million people will shop this Friday, Saturday or Sunday — that’s higher than the 128 million people who planned to do so last year.

According to the survey, conducted by BIGresearch, 57 million people say they will definitely hit the stores while another 77 million are waiting to see what retailers are planning before heading out the door.

Here’s the breakdown:

* 66.3 percent plan to shop at discount stores
* 62.4 percent plan to shop at department stores
* 41 percent will shop at electronics stores
* 36.3 percent are going to a clothing/clothing accessories store
* 28.8 percent are shopping at a grocery store (this to me is most interesting)

Most people are heading out the door before 9 a.m. with a few (one in 10) braving the Midnight-to-3 a.m. hours, and about 28 percent each heading out from 4 to 6 a.m and 7 to 9 a.m.

Pamela Goodfellow, a senior analyst with BIGresearch noted in the news release that consumers are still expected to remain cautious. But “the anticipation of Black Friday deals seems to be coaxing shoppers out of hibernation, many arriving to stores early and with coupons in hand.”

We’ve also heard caution that inventory levels will be lower this year, as Lisa Bisenius, associate general manager at the White Marsh Mall, noted in my story last month: “…if people see something they want, they’d better get it because you may not get it at a later date.”

I wonder if that perception will drive Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) shopping this year, only to see a drop off in the week following. Do consumers feel they had better get their gifts now while there still in stock? Will we see that last-minute-shopper surge this year or will that be more subdued?

One thing’s for sure though, the bargains will again be hot this year. Shop.org’s CyberMonday.com, will feature a “Deal of the Hour” on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Retailers participating in the Black Friday Deal of the Hour include Overstock.com, Sears and American Eagle. (Click here for the full list of companies and times.) Offers include free shipping, discounts and free gifts with purchase.