The holiday selling season got off to a decent start for retailers, even if overall music sales didn't quite match expectations.

Susan Boyle's "I Dreamed A Dream" was by far the bright spot over the Black Friday weekend, with industry analysts projecting its sales at about 650,00 for its debut week. But even that performance wasn't enough to boost comparable-store music sales into the black.

Newbury Comics head of purchasing Carl Mello says music sales at the 28-store chain was down 8%, while hit titles were down 6%. "Overall sales were down just a couple of points, but margin was up 10 points because of sales of more profitable product," he says.

In general, Mello says used music, DVD and games had strong sales, which he says were among the more profitable items in the store nowadays. "We ran promotions for used product and people just responded and bought stuff for themselves," he says.

A senior executive at another chain reports that overall sales at its stores were up slightly on a comparable-store basis, but says that music was down about 6% on a comparable-store basis. "The stores were packed; no doubt people were out," he reports. "But they were looking for price points."

He says the next 10 days will be "damn important." While he expects discounting to continue throughout the holiday selling season, "inventories are lean and clean, so there will be less panic sales," he predicts. "Last year, the shoppers kept waiting until the last days of the season because they were waiting for better discounts, which kept coming and they were right."

At music and movie wholesaler Super D, executives report that its direct-to-consumer business was very strong over the weekend.

Merchants are hoping that the Boyle album becomes the album to drive the holiday selling season, something that usually happens every holiday season except for last year when nothing emerged as a surprise.

According to sources, the Boyle album was only expected to do about 250,000 units in its first week, and Sony Music Entertainment's initial shipment on the album in the United States was about 800,000 units. But the album outperformed expectations at every account by anywhere from 200% to 400%, label and distribution sources say. As of Nov. 30, sources put Sony's shipment of the album at about 1.8 million units.

At Newbury Comics, which is more known for selling alternative, metal and rap than mainstream artists, Boyle was the No. 3 seller for the weekend and the No. 2 seller on Black Friday.

"We were touch and go with Susan Boyle," Mello says. "During the week, maybe a quarter of our stores might have been out of stock on the album for about four hours a day, but we always got replenishment there, whether from our warehouse or we one-stopped it. And none of our stores ran out of it over the weekend."

Sony Music Entertainment was actively pumping Boyle into the pipeline all week long, music merchandisers report.

Besides Boyle, Lady Gaga outperformed expectations last week with "The Fame Monster," which expected to have scans of 180,000 units, while the combined sales of the original version of "Fame" and the deluxe edition projected to scan about 140,000 units, with most of that coming from the latter version.

Besides that, Rihanna, John Mayer, Adam Lambert and 50 Cent "are selling well and Jay-Z has legs, which is interesting," Mello says. Beyond music, the senior retail executive who didn't want to be identified says it will be interesting to see what happens with Blu-ray over the holiday selling season. "Best Buy had them stacked to the ceiling," he says.

Up until now, Blu-ray has been priced too high to catch on with shoppers, retailers say. But Black Friday sales on the format were prevalent and offered deep discounts on hit movies.

Check back to Billboard.biz for first-look numbers on holiday digital sales trends