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Abercrombie, Walmart seen as early winners in holiday sales

The Fifth Ave. Abercrombie & Fitch store, December,

The Fifth Ave. Abercrombie & Fitch store, December, 2007. (Getty Images) Photo Credit: The Fifth Ave. Abercrombie & Fitch store, December, 2007. (Getty Images)

Abercrombie & Fitch seemed to come out ahead of other clothing retailers during the annual Black Friday kickoff to the holiday shopping season, analysts said Monday.

Abercrombie and Walmart were among the perceived winners in a four-day weekend when some stores opened on Thanksgiving night and people shopped online in greater numbers than ever before.

The National Retail Federation trade group reported on Sunday that total sales for the four days from Thanksgiving through Sunday had risen 12.8% to $59.1 billion. That is down from a 16.4% increase last year.

Abercrombie, which operates the Hollister chain in addition to its namesake stores, "was the clear winner," with the longest lines and units per transaction during the weekend, according to Oppenheimer analyst Pamela Quintiliano.

Quintiliano said Ann, which specializes in women's clothing, "may potentially prove to be the most disappointing, as traffic never fully materialized on stable promotions."

UBS analyst Roxanne Meyer said the specialty retailers with the most foot traffic over the four-day weekend included Limited Brands, American Eagle and Gap, with relatively weaker traffic at Aeropostale, Cold Water Creek and Chico's FAS.

Despite early signs of strength, analysts cautioned against reading too much into the results.

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