Early returns from Black Friday and the Thanksgiving holiday weekend sales were strong as initial data shows more consumers were shopping online for their gift-giving needs.
Adobe Insights, which measures 80% of online transactions at 100 major retailers in the U.S., reported that a record $5.03 billion was spent through e-commerce outlets by the end of Black Friday, an increase of 17% over 2016.
In addition, comScore reported that e-commerce sales on Thanksgiving Day were up 22% and up 20% on Black Friday. ComScore noted that of the 115 million shoppers who visiting online retail sites on Thanksgiving, 61% did so on their mobile devices.
“With more consumers opting to kick off their holiday shopping online on Thanksgiving, the traditional day of giving thanks has also become one of the more important online buying days of the holiday season as an increasing number of people prefer to get a head start on their buying from the comfort of their homes,” said Andrew Lipsman, svp/marketing and insights with comScore.
Online growth was not just limited to e-commerce pure-plays. Kevin Mansell, Kohl’s CEO, told Fortune, that sales on Black Friday were strong as were store visits over the holiday weekend. He pointed to stores opening the evening of Thanksgiving and staying open into Black Friday as a key factor in his chain’s strong sales.
Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette, in an interview with CNBC, said the holiday season was off to a “strong start” on Black Friday, adding that some items were already selling out in stores. He reported that promotions were “less severe” than in past years, which could lead to improved profits.
However, Macy’s positive start was hampered by a glitch later in the day on Black Friday that slowed the processing of credit card and gift card payments in stores and online.
Overall, store traffic on Black Friday appeared to hold steady when compared to Black Friday of 2016, with ShopperTrak reporting a less than 1% decrease.
“There has been a significant amount of debate surrounding the shifting importance of brick-and-mortar retail, and the fact that shopper visits remained intact on Black Friday illustrates that physical retail is still highly relevant and, when done right, profitable,” said Brian Field, senior director of advisory services for ShopperTrak.