As one who waited outside in lines on Black Friday, I can attest to the volume of consumers out there looking to spend money this holiday season.

A number of sources back this up. The National Retail Federation (NRF) issued a report on Nov. 27 that 212 million shoppers visited stores and Websites throughout the Black Friday weekend, up from 195 million last year. The NRF reports people also spent more, with the average shopper forking out $365.34, up from last year’s $343.31. Total spending for the weekend reached an estimated $45.0 billion.

ShopperTrak too offered some relatively positive news. According to the group, Black Friday sales increased slightly — 0.3 percent — over 2009, though this low figure is thought to be due to a number of advertised sales by retailers in early November. In a release issued Nov. 27, ShopperTrak Founder Bill Martin said, “The reality is we have a deal-driven consumer in 2010 and that consumer responded to some of the earliest deep discounts we’ve even seen for the holidays. Additionally, a percentage of retailers concentrated on pushing folks to their Websites with various online-only sales, which most likely influenced Black Friday performance as well.”

So is your company positioned to meet the increased product demand?

In this month’s issue, we look at nine industry leaders who are positioning their companies to do just that. Beginning on page 19, our special Market Leaders section features profiles of astute executives who are thriving on the economic and environmental challenges facing the industry and are finding new opportunities to grow their production and profits, as well as helping the industry as a whole thrive in the global market.

In alphabetical order, our 2010 Woodworking Market Leaders are: Keith Atherholt, president of Lewis Lumber Products; Steve Brewster, director of sustainability at Kimball Office; Margaret Fisher, director of market development, Lange Bros. Woodwork; Steve Kincaid, president of Kincaid Furniture; Jim Sherbert, CEO of Bush Industries; Brian Walker, president and CEO of Herman Miller; Greg Stoner, president of MasterBrand Cabinets; Jennifer Quinn Williams, owner and president of St. Louis Closet Co.; and Boe Young, vice president of manufacturing at Impressions Marketing Group.

We offer our congratulations, and invite you to read their profiles in order to learn more about these astute executives and their strategies of success.

Watch for More Tips on Improving Competitiveness
On Jan. 19, the editors of Woodworking Network will host a free webcast on how integrating production technology can help you improve your production rates, reduce waste in process and improve your profits. Join me at 11:00 ET as I moderate this special session where we will look at some of the new technology available on the marketplace and talk about the steps needed for continuous improvement in order to help you bring your plant to its highest levels of production and quality. Well-known wood products manufacturers also will be on hand to discuss their best practice tips and success strategies for a production environment.

Registration is free. Watch for more details.

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.