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Black Friday Results and What's Ahead for Cyber Monday

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More than half of the country shopped on Black Friday weekend! According to the National Retail Federation's (NRF) latest survey, 212 million people hit the stores and websites on Black Friday weekend, compared to 195 million in 2009.

On average, shoppers spent $365.34, compared to $343.31, totaling $45 billion, compared to $41.2 billion last year. The NRF found that 24 percent of shoppers were at stores by 4 am on Black Friday and 22.3 million people shopped in stores and online on Thanksgiving day, compared to 10.3 million in 2005.

Shoppers focused on the jewelry this weekend -- 14.3 percent of shoppers bought jewelry compared to 11.7 percent in 2009, according to the NRF.

Shopping Online

Over this past Black Friday weekend, 33.6 percent of shoppers dodged the crowded stores and did their shopping online instead, compared to 28.5 in 2009. According to Coremetrics, on average, shoppers spent $190.80 online, compared to $170.19 in 2009 -- an increase of 12.1 percent.

Is This a Sign of a Strong Economy?

The data is certainly a sigh of relief, especially compared to last year's Black Friday numbers. We still have another month left of the holiday shopping season, but an increase in foot traffic at the stores over the past weekend shows a new sense of consumer confidence. While the unemployment and foreclosure crisis still looms, most consumers are feeling optimistic enough to hit the stores and shop. What's most encouraging is that a large portion of consumers are ditching their credit cards and using cash this holiday shopping season. New research from Moreplace Market showed that 40% of consumers will resort to cash, instead of credit cards, signaling a new sense of responsible spending.

What's Ahead for Cyber Monday

Over 106 million people plan to shop online on November 29th, Cyber Monday, compared to 95.6 million people in 2009, according the National Retail Federation (NRF).

The NRF says 96 million people, 89.5 percent of people will do their shopping from a computer at home, but over 7 million people, 6.9 percent of shoppers will use their cell phone for Cyber Monday shopping, signaling how powerful mobile devices have become to our economy. Some 4 million people used their cell phones to shop on Cyber Monday last year -- nearly a 100 percent increase!

The NRF reports that 44.2 percent of people who will shop on Cyber Monday will do so early.

Finding the Best Deals on Cyber Monday

According to the NRF, 88 percent of retailers plan to offer a sale/special deal on Cyber Monday, compared to 72 percent in 2007. You shouldn't have any trouble saving money on Cyber Monday.

Take advantage of free shipping offers from online retailers -- Shop.org reports that 85% of retailers plan to offer free shipping to consumers.

Scott Gamm is the founder of HelpSaveMyDollars.com. He has appeared on NBC's TODAY, MSNBC, Fox News, Fox Business Network, ABC News and CBS.