Consumers Spend $11 Billion Online Over Thanksgiving Weekend

Greater use of e-commerce and extended discounting from retailers are changing the traditional patterns of holiday spending, multiple studies revealed. According to software company Adobe, consumers spent $11 billion in online sales over Thanksgiving weekend, a 15% increase over last year. A survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF) found that more people shopped online (103 million) than visited stores (102 million) on Black Friday. Meanwhile, sales estimates from ShopperTrak found that consumers spent $20.43 billion in retail stores on Black Friday weekend, a 10.4% decrease over last year. Foot traffic was also down compared to last year.

“This year, we saw Black Friday ads emerge before Halloween, as retailers aimed to get at the shopper’s wallet early,” said Kevin Kearns, ShopperTrak chief revenue officer. “And from our data, we saw greater retail sales generated prior to the Black Friday weekend, which is a result of retailers successfully elongating the holiday season.” Decreased store hours on Thanksgiving and a later date for Hanukkah also contributed to the Black Friday retail decline.

Still, the overall data paints an encouraging picture for the holiday season. The NRF’s survey reported that more than 151 million people shopped either in stores and/or online over the weekend – 15 million more than what was estimated in a mid-November survey. The group is predicting that total retail sales (both online and in store) will rise 3.7% this year, less than last year’s total of 4.1%.

Online and mobile shopping continues to grow. Adobe said Cyber Monday would reach a record $2.98 billion, 12% higher than last year. IBM Watson Trend noted that online shopping on Thanksgiving Day shot up 26%, and that mobile sales accounted for 40% of all online sales, an increase of 24% from last year. While over $2 billion in Cyber Monday spending occurred on desktop computers, according to ComScore, mobile accounted for 49% of shopping visits and 28% of sales.

Average spending per order was higher on Black Friday ($137) and Thanksgiving Day ($162) than on Cyber Monday ($133), indicating that online shoppers bought less expensive items. Consumers also spent more on Black Friday in retail stores than online. ShopperTrak estimates brick-and-mortar retail stores will increase 2.4% for the holiday season, and retailers remain encouraged by the results of Thanksgiving weekend, said NRF Chief Executive Officer Matt Shay, adding that consumer sentiment was buoyed by cheap gas prices and low unemployment. "Consumers are in a good place to get us to a very good holiday season," said Shay on a conference call, according to Reuters. "I think we are in a very good place based on the results of the last few days to be right in that range."