The retail industry is still counting the receipts from "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday." However, Time Magazine is reporting that total sales figures from brick and mortar stores was anemic.
The retail research firm ShopperTrak estimates that shoppers spent $11.2 billion at physical stores on Black Friday. That represents a 1.8% decline from Black Friday 2011.
That decline was not seen in one very specific area of the retail business, gun sales. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), gun sales -- based on Black Friday background checks -- set a new record, jumping by 20%. The surge in gun sales was so great that many retailers reported extended wait times in order to get applications processed by the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
A new single-day record for point-of-sale background checks was established on Black Friday, November 23, when 154,873 were conducted by the FBI.
Looking at the chart below, you can see that both Black Friday and this past Saturday's numbers were big enough to be part of the ten biggest days in background check history. Last year saw 129,166 checks processed.
On Sunday night, TheBlaze spoke with Robert Barnett, the owner of Larry's Pistol & Pawn in Hunstville, AL and and confirmed that the background check process, which typically takes "2-3 minutes" was much longer on Friday.
"Most of the day (Friday), I had 8-9 employees on hold with NICS, listening to music and waiting to process their forms. And each employee was holding 4-5 applications. The wait times averaged 15-20 minutes per call, when we could get through."
According to Mr. Barnett, many times his employees tried to dial NICS they heard a busy signal and had to hit re-dial over and over until they got into the system. We asked if this might have been due to the FBI having a skeletal staff on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Robert Barnett said that was unlikely. Apparently the FBI has contracted with a large telephone order processing company to handle these calls.
There was no recorded "crash" of the FBI's system, but traffic did cause a slowdown in response and processing times. Business was very good for gun dealers this past weekend.
A gun store in Texas also reported similar sales success on Black Friday, while giving credit to the President. As reported by CNS.com:
Jim Pruett, owner of Pruett's Guns and Ammo in Texas commented on the recent surge saying, "Obama is the greatest gun salesman of all time. Every time he talks about guns, sales go through the roof."
TheBlaze has also reached out to The FBI in order to confirm the number of background checks handled this week and also to verify that an outside agency processes those applications. All calls to the NICS line were met with a busy signal. However, we did make contact with Stephen Fischer in the FBI's Public Information office. He provided the following hard numbers on background checks processed over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Black Friday 2012 (11/23/12) -- 154,873 Black Friday 2011 (11/25/11) -- 129,166
An increase of more than 20% from the previous Black Friday
Saturday (11/24/12) -- 88,419 Saturday (11/26/11) -- 59,957
A staggering increase over 47% higher than the previous year.
Sunday (11/25/12) -- 40,131 Sunday (11/27/11) -- 26,069
an increase of more than 50% than the previous year
Total Weekend Background Checks Processed 2012 -- 283,423
Total Weekend Background Checks Processed 2011 -- 215,192
That is an increase of more than 30% year over year.
Perhaps Jim Pruett was correct in his assessment of the president's ability to inspire firearms purchases.