Lured by deals and discounts, US shoppers appear to have shrugged off economic worries to post record Thanksgiving weekend sales of $52.4bn, the latest figures suggest, with clothing among the top gifts.

Traffic and spending over the weekend were up both online and in stores, reaching historic highs, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF).

A record 226m shoppers visited shops and websites over Black Friday weekend (which includes Thursday, Friday, Saturday and projected spending for Sunday), up from 212m last year. And more than half (51.4%) bought clothing and clothing accessories.

Digging deep into their holiday budgets, the average holiday shopper spent $398.62 over the weekend, up from $365.34 last year. Total spending reached an estimated $52.4bn. Shoppers also checked out retailers' deals online, spending an average of $150.53 on the web - 37.8% of their total weekend spending.

"After an historic holiday weekend, retailers know the holiday season is far from over and will continue to look for ways to excite holiday shoppers and build on the momentum we've seen thus far," said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay.

The survey, conducted by BIGresearch, found 28.7m people shopped online and at stores on Thanksgiving Day - up from 22.2m last year. More people than ever before also shopped online and in stores on Black Friday, as 86.3m shoppers braved the crowds that day alone.

Continuing the momentum from 2010, nearly one-quarter (24.4%) of Black Friday shoppers were at the stores by midnight, either waiting for stores to open or visiting retailers who opened on Thanksgiving evening. By comparison, the number of people who were at the stores at midnight was 9.5% in 2010 and 3.3% in 2009.

"The appetite for these early openings is only getting stronger among holiday shoppers, and retailers did a great job providing Americans just what they wanted this weekend - the ability to shop on Black Friday without having to get out of bed before dawn," said BIGresearch executive vice president Phil Rist.

"Consumers are clearly demonstrating their desire to spend this holiday season, and shopping early and often seem to be their new mantra as they seek the best value for all their holiday purchases."

The most popular shopping destinations were department stores (48.7%), discounters (37.5%) and clothing stores (24.6%).

However, while shoppers have shown they are willing to spend this holiday season, they are far from throwing caution to the wind when it comes to how much they will spend on gifts. Retailers will have to stick to an aggressive holiday promotion schedule to keep consumers interested.