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Thanksgiving online sales shatter records, retail data shows

Black Friday shoppers at the Walt Whitman Shops

Black Friday shoppers at the Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station on Friday, Nov. 25, 2016 Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Heavy promotions and deep discounts by retailers helped in-store shopper traffic over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend to remain on par with last year, while online sales broke records after experiencing double-digit growth.

Thanksgiving weekend shopping lured more than 154 million U.S. shoppers into stores and online with Black Friday still on top as the biggest shopping day, according to a National Retail Federation survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics. That number is up from 151 million shoppers in 2015, according to NRF results released Sunday.

“It was a very strong weekend for retailers, but especially good for consumers,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said.

About 99.1 million people shopped in stores over this weekend, and 108.5 million shopped online, spending an average of $289.19 per person, down slightly from $299.60 last year, the NRF found.

Although consumers spent less, they got more for their dollars, Shay said.

The most popular day to shop in-store and online over the weekend was Black Friday. Of those who shopped in-store, 75 percent shopped on Black Friday, up 3.4 percent from last year. Online shopping was up 1.3 percent from last year, to 74 percent.

“Black Friday remains alive and well,” Shay said. “It remains by far the most popular day to shop.”

ShopperTrak, a provider of shopper analytics based in Chicago, found that Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday in-store visits declined a combined 1 percent compared to last year, with Black Friday visits flat compared to 2015.

“After analyzing historical shopper visit data, we found that Thanksgiving Day store openings were increasingly pulling shopper visits from Black Friday over the past few years,” Brian Field, senior director of advisory services for ShopperTrak, said in a statement. “This year, we saw a reversal of that trend, which can be attributed to several factors, including fewer store openings on Thanksgiving Day, as well as online shopping.”

About $5.27 billion was spent online on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday combined, 17.7 percent more than last year, according to digital software company Adobe Systems Inc., based in San Jose, California. Of that figure, $1.93 billion was spent online on Thanksgiving, 11.5 percent more than in 2015, and $3.34 billion on Black Friday, a 21.6 percent increase from last year.

Black Friday set a record by surpassing the $3 billion mark and it also became the first day in retail history to drive over $1 billion in mobile revenue, Adobe found.

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