CHICAGO --Thanksgiving Day is no longer all about turkey: It's eating away at Black Friday shopping.
U.S. shoppers spent $9.74 billion on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. That's a drop of 13.2 percent compared with last year, according to data released Saturday by Chicago-based research firm ShopperTrak.
The decline appears to show that more Americans shopped on the holiday itself: Combined spending on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, which had been considered the official start to the holiday buying season until this year, rose 2.3 percent to $12.3 billion.
The data reflect that Thanksgiving, which along with Christmas was one of two days a year when most stores were closed, is becoming an important day for major retailers.
Black Friday is a time when big retailers open early and offer deep discounts, but a few started opening and offering those discounts on Thanksgiving a couple years ago. And this year, at least a dozen did so, with a few opening earlier in the holiday than they did last year.
The National Retail Federation, a retail trade group, predicted that 33 million, or almost a quarter, of the 140 million people who planned to shop during the four-day holiday weekend that ends today, would do so on Thanksgiving. Analysts had questioned whether the holiday openings would steal sales away from Black Friday or result in people spending more overall.
"Retailers were pretty successful in drawing the consumers into the stores on Thursday," said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin, whose company counts how many shoppers go into about 40,000 stores in U.S. But "Thursday's sales came at the expense of Black Friday's numbers."
The decline in sales on Black Friday was the second one in a row. Last year, sales on that day dropped 1.8 percent to $11.2 billion, though it still was the biggest shopping day last year, according to ShopperTrak.
Despite the big drop this year, Shoppertrak's Mr. Martin said he thinks Black Friday will remain the biggest shopping day of the year for the 10th consecutive year. But if retailers continue to promote Thanksgiving as the start of the holiday buying season, he thinks the holiday will eventually surpass Black Friday in sales.
"We're just taking Black Friday sales and spreading them across a larger number of days," Mr. Martin said.
There will be a clearer picture of sales for the first holiday shopping weekend today when the National Retail Federation releases data.
Overall, the retail trade group expects sales to be up 3.9 percent to $602 billion for the season.
On Saturday, President Barack Obama joined the wave of shoppers, stocking up on more than 20 books in a rare stop at a Washington, D.C., bookstore. It was part of an effort to support small businesses.
The president's visit to Politics & Prose, a Washington landmark, was timed to Small Business Saturday.
Nearly half the books Mr. Obama bought are written for children or young adults, and are presumably for his daughters Malia, 15, and Sasha, 12.
Among the notable reads is "Red Sparrow," a spy novel by Jason Matthews that has been praised for its realism.
But most of Mr. Obama's choices lean more toward pure escapism.
"The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance," by Sports illustrated writer David Epstein, tries to dispel common myths about what makes athletes great. "Collision Low Crossers: A Year Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football" is an unvarnished look at the National Football League from Nicholas Dawidoff.
Mr. Obama's list included little new, literary fiction. James Salter's "All That Is," Anthony Marra's "A Constellation of Vital Phenomena," and Jhumpa Lahiri's "The Lowland" made the list.
McClatchy Newspapers contributed.