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Black Friday Discounts Too Deep?

The New York Times reports that deep discounts by retailers may have gotten people to shop, but not helped retailers turn a profit.

But while spending was up, there were troubling signs in the early numbers. The bargains that drove shoppers to stores were so stunning, analysts said that retailers — already suffering from double-digit sales declines the last two months — would probably see their profits erode even further.

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The National Retail Federation, adding up sales Thursday through Saturday and projected sales for Sunday, said that each shopper spent about 7 percent more this year than last year. Shoppers spent an average of $372.57 Friday though Sunday, according to the federation, a trade group.

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Analysts said the discounts that drew in shoppers over the weekend were so steep that many ailing chains might be no better off in the long run.

“You're looking at discounts of 50 to 70 percent off,” said Matthew Katz, managing director in the retail practice of Alix Partners, an advisory and restructuring firm. “You have to sell two to three times as much to break even.”

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