Street is Focused on Shopping

It was Wall Street's first positive Black Friday since 2008. The Dow surged more than 172 points, closing back above 13,000, capping the blue chips' best week since June.

Volume came in light -- less than half the monthly average -- but the major averages still ended comfortably in the plus column. A 4% weekly gain for the tech-heavy Nasdaq brought a string of six weekly declines to an end.

This morning, futures are pointing south: Dow futures are lower by 44 points, Nasdaq futures are off 7 points, and S&P 500 futures are down 5.

Much of Wall Street's focus today is on the consumer. This Cyber Monday is expected to bring in sales of  $1.5 billion, marking a 20% increase from last year, according to research firm comScore.

It is expected to be the busiest online shopping day of the year for the third year in a row. But that designation isn't set in stone: other days have become hugely popular for online shopping -- like Black Friday, when online sales topped $1 billion for the first time ever.

This is how the full Black Friday weekend shaped up: a record 247 million shoppers visited stores and their websites between Thanksgiving and Sunday. They spent $423 each, or $59.1 billion in all, according to the National Retail Federation.

All that shopping helped some retailers more than others. John D. Morris with BMO Capital Markets says that Gap (NYSE:GSP), Limited Brands (NYSE:LTD), and TJX Cos. (NYSE:TJX) will perform better than others. He’s expecting Gap’s November same-store sales to rise 5% each, better than the Street’s 3% estimate. Morris expects Ross Stores (NASDAQ:ROST) and Zumiez (NASDAQ:ZUMZ) to see 4% and 3% November comps, respectively.

“Shopping over Black Friday weekend was robust, based on our field team checks, capping a volatile month in retail that began severely handicapped by Hurricane Sandy," he said. "Following the disruptions early on from the storm, retailers began to recover in week 3, and consumers came out in full force this past weekend.”

It was a mix of pent-up demand and a more confident consumer that got the holiday season off to a strong start, however, history shows the early numbers are usually overly optimistic.