Economists predict big turnout for Black Friday sales

November 25, 2011

By Michell Eloy

Retailers opened their doors early this morning to Black Friday shoppers, and some economists say after a year of economic turbulence, this might be the busiest one in years.

"The timing just couldn't be worse," said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial in Chicago

Swonk said after a year of record gas prices, stagnant wages, high unemployment and volatile stock market swings, consumer confidence has plummeted. As a result, she said people are planning to spend less on Christmas gifts this year.

Meanwhile, Mara Devitt, who's with a Chicago-based retail consulting firm, said shoppers looking for the best deals on popular items could make this Black Friday one of the busiest in recent years.

"Because of all of the economic pressures plus the way the retailers have made it more accessible it's going to make for a much more exciting and busier black friday this year," said Devitt.

Both Devitt and Swonk said retailers are anticipating improvements on sales from last year, but they credit that to shoppers buying necessities for themselves rather than gifts for others.

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