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UPDATE 2-US shoppers spent less over Black Friday weekend

 * Black Friday sales seen up 0.5 pct -ShopperTrak
 * Average spend down 8 pct to $343.31 per person -NRF  
 * Some 195 mln shoppers on Black Friday weekend -NRF
 (Recasts first paragraph, adds analyst comments, online data)
 SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 29 (Reuters) - U.S. consumers spent
significantly less at the start of the holiday season this
weekend, dimming hopes for a retail comeback that would help
propel the economy early in 2010.
 While shoppers turned out in force as early as U.S.
Thanksgiving Day on Thursday, many said they had zeroed in on
highly discounted items, would buy only what they needed and
would walk out of a store if they did not find a good deal.
 "Shoppers proved this weekend that they were willing to
open their wallets for a bargain," said National Retail
Federation Chief Executive Tracy Mullin in a statement on
Sunday. Retail chains "know they have their work cut out for
them to keep people coming back through Christmas."
 Consumers said they will have spent nearly 8 percent less
on average, or about $343 per person, over the weekend that
includes Thanksgiving, Black Friday and runs through Sunday,
according to the NRF. [ID:N29405002]
 Traffic to stores and websites rose to 195 million people
from 172 million in 2008, but shoppers were focused on buying
low-priced items, like $10 toys and $9 books, the NRF said.
 The NRF has forecast a 1 percent decline in holiday sales
this year, which would mark an unprecedented drop for two
straight years after a global financial crisis erupted in 2008.
 Total retail sales edged up just 0.5 percent to $10.66
billion on Black Friday, which is often the single-busiest day
of the holiday shopping season, ShopperTrak said on Saturday.
[ID:nN28399866]
 Online retailers, however, enjoyed an 11 percent jump in
Black Friday spending to $595 million, with Amazon.com AMZN.O
and Wal-Mart Stores Inc's WMT.N Walmart.com enjoying the
biggest surges in traffic, according to comScore SCOR.O.
[ID:nN29396405]
 Retailers had warned investors they would take a
conservative view of holiday sales and have cut inventory and
reduced expenses to compensate. [ID:nN1864284]
 "You're clearly down on a two-year run rate," said Bill
Taubman of mall operator Taubman Centers Inc TCO.N. But he
added, "margins are going to be extremely good because
(retailers) have been careful about what they bought."
For a graphic on U.S. holiday sales trends, clickhere
 DEPARTMENT STORES ATTRACT
 Shoppers interviewed across the country by Reuters over the
weekend said they were lured by bargains, but would stick to
pared-down budgets.
 "If they don't have rebates and sales before Christmas, I
don't think people are going to go back shopping after Black
Friday," said Joel Wincowski, a higher education consultant
shopping at a Best Buy BBY.N store in Plattsburgh, New York.
He bought an Xbox 360 game console for $299.
 "We're going to cut back on everybody, even the kids."
 Discount chains like Walmart, department stores and
higher-end chains like Saks Inc SKS.N seemed to have lured
more spending and avoided steep discounts, retail consultants
and executives said on Sunday.
 "The market has had a negative bias toward the state of
consumer spending," said Bill Dreher, senior analyst at
Deutsche Bank. "We continue to believe that there are pockets
of strength with discount retailing doing very well, with
select luxury retailers doing very well, like Nordstrom JWN.N
and Saks, which have brought down their price points."
 Specialty apparel chains, however, may face another tough
year as they relied on heavy promotions to draw shoppers.
 "Going through the mall on Friday, the stores that had not
been doing as well -- AnnTaylor ANN.N, Limited, Gap GPS.N
-- were very aggressively promoting," said Jeff Edelman,
director of retail and consumer advisory services at RSM
McGladrey.
 Edelman expects holiday sales to be flat this year, but he
said he expected profits for most retailers to be higher.
 The NRF said shoppers' destination of choice appeared to be
department stores, with nearly half of holiday shoppers
visiting at least one. A little more than 43 percent of
shoppers said they went to a discount retailer this weekend.
 (Additional reporting by Jessica Wohl in Chicago and Phil
Wahba in New York; Editing by Michele Gershberg, Matthew Lewis
and Maureen Bavdek)
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