Low Prices Draw SoCal Shoppers

A Los Angeles-based comparison shopping Web site reports that traffic was up 11 percent on Black Friday compared to the day after Thanksgiving last year. PriceGrabber.com said the slow economy motivated value-driven consumers to use the Web site, which helps consumers find retailers who are offering the lowest prices for products.

Southland brick-and-mortar stores also reported a surprisingly strong start to the Christmas shopping season, and analysts said that nationally, sales were up 3 percent compared to the same time last year.

However, economists still expect a down shopping season overall for most businesses, except for outlets like Wal-Mart that stress low prices.

Data from PriceGrabber shows that online consumers were taking advantage of promotions on popular electronics including LCD and plasma TVs, Blu-ray disc players, digital cameras, laptop computers and video game consoles.

"Prior to the Black Friday weekend, 71 percent of shoppers intended to spend less money this holiday season compared to last year and 66 percent planned to give practical gifts," said Ron LaPierre, president of PriceGrabber.com. "Thanksgiving and Black Friday traffic shows that value drives consumer spending. Consumers are responding to aggressive promotions and price drops on popular electronics."

PriceGrabber.com recently launched a free shipping site, FreeShipping.PriceGrabber.com, to provide consumers with free shipping offers on almost 6 million products from more than 1,000 retailers.

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