More Americans hunted for bargains over the weekend than ever before as retailers lured them online and into stores with big discounts and an earlier-than-usual start to the holiday shopping season.

A record 226 million shoppers visited stores and websites during the four-day weekend starting on Thanksgiving Day, up from 212 million last year, according to early estimates by The National Retail Federation released Sunday. Americans spent more, too: The average shopper spent $398.62 over the weekend, up from $365.34 a year ago.

The results for the first holiday shopping weekend show that retailers’ efforts to lure shoppers during the weak economy are working. Some, like Walmart Stores Inc. and J.C. Penney, have been making a stronger push online to better compete with the likes of rival And major chains like Macy’s, Target and Best Buy extended the traditional start to the shopping season by opening their doors at midnight on Thanksgiving evening instead of the pre-dawn Friday hours of years past.

The question remains whether retailers will be able to hold shoppers’ attention throughout the rest of the season, which can account for 25 percent to 40 percent of a merchant’s annual revenue.