Black Friday has come and gone and the retail sales outlook appears cloudy at best. According to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation (NRF) over the weekend, 195 million shoppers hit the malls and other retail outlets over the Black Friday weekend, an increase of 23 million over last year’s shoppers.

However the increase in shoppers has not translated into more and bigger sales. The NRF reports that although the average shopper spent $343.31 and the overall total was estimated to be $41.2 billion, the numbers represent a significant drop from the $372.57 average and $64 billion total seen over the same weekend a year ago.
Before the holiday alarm bells sound, the numbers released by the NRF could represent an increase in Internet shopping by consumers seeking online discounts while avoiding the crowds. If this theory holds true, a renewed interest may take place in the long discussed issue of Internet sales tax charges for online purchases.
2010 will be a very interesting year. Congress and state legislatures will continue to wrestle with the sales tax laws as budget deficits for many state will continue to be dismal.