CHICAGO, Nov 25 (Reuters) - U.S. shoppers went to stores
earlier and bought online more than before this Thanksgiving
weekend, giving retailers a strong start to the holiday shopping
season, data showed on Sunday.
Likely beneficiaries included retailers that have done a
better job of combining their physical stores with their online
and mobile channels into a seamless shopping experience,
analysts said, mentioning the likes of Wal-Mart Stores Inc
and Macy's Inc.
"The more you can make a shopper shop multiple channels,
they are at least twice as likely to be a loyal shopper and
spend tons of money," Patty Edwards, chief investment officer at
Trutina Financial, said.
Total spending for the weekend rose to $59.1 billion from
$52.4 billion last year, according to a survey from the National
Retail Federation. An estimated 139.4 million adults visited
U.S. stores and websites from Thanksgiving through Sunday, up
from 131 million last year, the survey, conducted for the
industry trade group by BIGinsight, said.
In the latest sign of the growing importance of
Internet-based retailing, comScore Inc said "Black
Friday" online sales topped $1 billion for the first time, while
IBM said online sales rose 16.9 percent year-over-year on
ComScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni said "Cyber Monday" online
sales may reach $1.5 billion this year. That would be up 20
percent from the corresponding day last year, though slower
year-over-year growth than Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
Amazon.com was the most-visited retail website on
Black Friday, and it posted the highest year-over-year visitor
growth rate among the top five retailers. Wal-Mart's website was
second, followed by sites run by Best Buy Co, Target
Corp and Apple Inc, comScore said.
While the start appeared good, whether they can sustain the
initial burst through the holiday season is the key for
retailers, which can book a third of their annual sales and 40
to 50 percent of profits for the year in November and December.
The impact on the U.S. economy is also sizeable as consumer
spending accounts for about 70 percent of all economic activity.
There are two extra days between Thanksgiving and Christmas
this year and one more full weekend, so the opportunity for a
lull between the holidays is greater.
"A big Black Friday, it's hard to read too much into that
for the rest of the season," Scott Tuhy, vice president at
Moody's Investors Service, said.
Staying open on Thanksgiving became more widespread this
year as retailers such as Target, Sears Holdings Corp
and Toys R Us Inc joined in, while others including
Wal-Mart and Gap Inc either extended their operating
hours or had more stores doing business.
Traditionally, stores had waited until Black Friday, the day
after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, to make their big push.
"When you see strong sales on Thursday and Friday, you know
it is going to come from later in the weekend or later in the
season," Steve Krenzer, chief executive of shopping comparison
website PriceGrabber, said.
The National Retail Federation still expects sales in
November and December to rise 4.1 percent this year, below last
year's 5.6 percent increase.