Black Friday retailers hope for silver lining

While a survey showed fewer shoppers are expected, a sharp drop in gas prices may leave some with some extra cash to spend and deals may draw out others.

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By Julianne Pepitone, CNNMoney.com contributing writer

Since the start of the recent market meltdown, how often do you check your 401(k) balance?
  • Once a day
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  • I can't bear to look

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Black Friday shopping is expected to decline slightly, but pent-up demand and lower gas prices may provide a small silver lining for the suffering retail industry, according to a survey released Tuesday.

Up to 128 million people said they will shop on the Friday, Saturday, or Sunday after Thanksgiving, down from 135 million the previous year, according to a survey by National Retail Federation (NRF).

But with some consumers holding out for the best deals and a sharp drop in gas prices giving some consumers a little bit of extra cash, retailers are hopeful.

In fact, a full 49 million people said they would "definitely" head to stores, while 79 million said they would decide after seeing the weekend deals.

Despite the decline, NRF called the number a "welcome surprise" after months of suffering retail sales.

"Retailers realize that low prices will get consumers into stores this holiday season, and this could be the most heavily promoted Black Friday in history," said NRF Chief Executive Tracy Mullin, in a statement.

NRF said it will release the results of its Black Friday weekend survey by 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, Nov. 30. To top of page

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