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Black Friday Remains Holiday Shoppers' Favorite

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Black Friday is still red hot among consumers planning to shop over Thanksgiving weekend,  despite the option to make purchases on the holiday itself and Cyber Monday.

An estimated 164 million people -- 69 percent of Americans -- are planning to shop or are considering shopping during Thanksgiving weekend, according to a survey released Tuesday by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics, a consumer research firm. Of those, a whopping 70 percent, or 115 million, plan to shop on Black Friday.

Cyber Monday came in second with 48 percent, or 78 million, of those surveyed saying they expect to shop on that day. Thanksgiving was the least popular day for making purchases, with only 20 percent, or 32 million people, considering opening their wallets.

Overall, however, shoppers cited the internet as their favorite destination for holiday gift-hunting season: 59 percent of consumers said it was their top choice, according to a separate survey by the NRF and Prosper Insights. Department stores were a close second with 57 percent of people giving them most-favored status, followed by discount stores at 54 percent.

This is the first time the internet won the survey's top spot.

"We weren't surprised that the internet was first. It's just a natural progression of what's going on in retailing," said Katherine Cullen, director of retail and consumer insights at the NRF.

And while large retail chains like Macy's (M) and Sears (SHLD) are struggling, Cullen said consumers like the convenience of shopping at stores that offer a variety of gifts in one place.  She added that shoppers often enjoy going to stores and malls so they can take in the decorations and special events.

"There's a festive spirit," she said.

It should be a happy holiday for retailers. The NRF announced last month that it expected holiday retail sales to increase between 3.6 percent and 4 percent for a total of $678.75 billion to $682 billion, up from $655.8 billion last year. 

Online shopping is growing at a faster rate, according to Adobe Analytics. It predicts online sales will jump nearly 14 percent to $107.4 billion. Cyber Monday is expected to become the largest online shopping day in history, generating $6.6 billion in sales, up 16.5 percent from last year. It will also offer Thanksgiving weekend's steepest discounts on toys, with markdowns of about 19 percent.

Overall, Black Friday offers the best deals with sharp price cuts on TVs, tablets, jewelry and appliances.

Shoppers like the convenience of buying online and having items delivered to their door. An option that has become extremely popular in recent years is ordering online and picking up the item in the store.

"It is a blend for consumers," said Becky Tasker, senior managing analyst and marketing manager at Adobe. "It guarantees they get the product."

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