Nov 25 (Reuters) - Internet sales continued to grow through
the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday weekend, feeding overall
transactions even as traffic to stores likely slowed after a
strong, early start.
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
Staying open on Thanksgiving became more widespread this
year as retailers such as Target Corp, 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.
IBM, in a survey, said 24 percent of shoppers used a mobile
device to visit a retailer's website on Black Friday, and 25.5
percent did so on Saturday. Overall sales, however, were likely
to have flattened slightly.
The number of consumers using their mobile device to make a
purchase was up over Black Friday, reaching 16.7 percent versus
16.3 percent, IBM said.
"Overall Saturday sales are probably up 1 or 2 percent after
the 3 or 4 percent on Thursday and Friday," said Steve Krenzer,
chief executive of shopping comparison website PriceGrabber.
"Sales for the overall weekend will be up 3 percent, but
some of Thursday and Friday's gains will come at Saturday's
expense," he said.
Krenzer said that this year, 13-14 percent of consumers
indicated they would spend more this holiday season against 80
percent or more who said they would spend the same or less than
"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," he added.
Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S.
Hard data for sales and traffic trends for the weekend will
not be available until later in the day and week, but initial
readings suggested that for all the early Thanksgiving deals,
those extra hours may not have led to a huge boost in sales.
The National Retail Federation expects sales in November and
December to rise 4.1 percent this year, below last year's 5.6
As the spending pool contracts, it becomes more important
for retailers to strategize as they battle each other, rather
than seeing a growing pie in a season when they can make a third
of their annual sales and 40 to 50 percent of their profits.
"The early opening is very important to gain or maintain
market share in the competitive landscape, but it will not
generate a breakthrough spike in year-over-year spending for the
overall holidays," PriceGrabber's Krenzer said.
Analysts at Shoppertrak, which analyzes store traffic, said
though the number of shoppers visiting physical stores rose 3.5
percent on Black Friday, retail sales fell 1.8 percent that day.