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STUTTGART, Germany — Black Friday sales were up 23 percent over last year at Army and Air Force Exchange Service shops across Europe, but the shopping rush cooled somewhat in subsequent days with more modest gains, according to AAFES sales figures.

Still, Saturday sales were up 6 percent from 2007 and up 1 percent on Sunday. The total weekend haul was $12.8 million, with shoppers taking advantage of big discounts on everything from computers and televisions to jewelry and apparel.

"We were prepared for it," said Lt. Col. William Thurmond, AAFES spokesman. "We had the merchandise in place. AAFES offers tremendous value during hard economic times. All shoppers, especially military shoppers, are savvy people and are looking for deals."

Thurmond said he’s hopeful more holiday season discounts will continue to drive traffic to post and base exchanges.

Worldwide, AAFES outlets registered $47.6 million in sales for the weekend, compared with $39.4 million in 2007.

Stateside, civilian shoppers proved less eager to part with their cash or wield their credit cards than their military counterparts, which is perhaps a reflection of the relative stability of military employment. With rising unemployment in the private sector and a sense that the worst is yet to come, servicemembers are insulated from much of the turmoil, at least for now.

On Friday and Saturday, stateside sales increased just 1.9 percent overall compared with 2007, with each day posting total sales of $10.6 billion and $6.0 billion respectively, according to ShopperTrack RCT’s National Retail Sales Estimate. Saturday sales, however, fell 0.8 percent for the day compared with last year’s mark as many Black Friday sales and promotions ended.

"At this point, we anticipate sales levels will continue to slow this week as consumers will remain home, looking for additional holiday sales toward the end of the shortened 2008 season," said Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrack, in a news release.

At AAFES facilities, some of the top-selling items included HP laptops, Xboxes and DVD players.

But what was the top seller for the weekend? Something to keep shoppers going: The 16-ounce Monster Energy Drink, with 28,465 cans sold worldwide, was by far the weekend’s most popular product, according to AAFES.

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