by  Aaron Burns

HUNTERSVILLE – When the dust on store shelves settled, Black Friday weekend showed a slight improvement nationwide and a source of optimism locally.

A study by the National Retail Federation showed national spending on Black Friday weekend – which included Small Business Saturday, a day promoting local businesses – saw a 14 percent increase over last year to $59.1 billion.

Roughly $5.5 billion of that total came from Small Business Saturday, according to a report from the National Federation of Small Businesses.

Black Friday, which saw a 1.8 percent decline by itself in sales nationally due to people shopping on Thursday and Saturday, is just one of many days during the holiday season where retailers can expect more sales, Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce President Bill Russell said.

NRF’s study showed the average consumer spent $423 the entire weekend.

Cyber Monday, a major sales day for online retailers, was projected by comScore Inc. to reach $1.5 billion in sales, a 20 percent increase from 2011. Numbers for Cyber Monday were unavailable before press time.

But the overall weekend sales reflected a 6 percent increase over last year, meaning consumers spent more, but didn’t limit themselves to Black Friday.

“We’ll be seeing stronger sales overall and not (limited to) just one-day events like Black Friday,” Russell said. “I don’t think you can point to a specific day anymore.

“People are spending more money throughout the holidays this year and charging more on plastic, which shows they have more confidence that they can pay (credit card purchases) back.”

Jeff Steiner, executive director of Moving Mooresville Forward, an initiative to promote economic growth in Mooresville, said the Lake Norman-area market could see more than just improved spending in the coming years. As more businesses start up and expand, customers will have more spending options.

“Our growth is continuing,” Steiner said. “This area is ripe for good business opportunities.”

Russell said the retail market in the Lake Norman region continues to improve, despite spending trends nationally.

“I don’t look at the Lake Norman area as a barometer for spending in the whole U.S.,” Russell said. “In many cases, we’re better off right here than most of the country because of the number of people moving here and spending money here.”