U.S. shopping season starts with record high online sales

0aaMonika Kochhar SmartGift

More than 58 million people only shopped online during the long weekend, compared to 51 million who only shopped in stores.

Average spend per person over the five-day period was $335.47, with $250.78, or about 75%, going toward gifts, according to NRF.

The online sales on Black Friday and Thanksgiving rose to 7.9 billion dollars, a record high, and up 17.9 percent from a year ago, said Adobe Analytics in a latest report, which covers transactions at the largest 100 US online retailers.

Three days after bringing in $5.03 billion online on Black Friday, retailers outdid themselves once again, reeling in a record $6.59 billion on Cyber Monday - 16.8% growth year-over-year.

- But much of that money is headed online: E-commerce sales are up about 17 percent this season, according to Adobe Systems.

"It may not have been as bad as feared for brick-and-mortar stores", said Joel Bines, a managing director focused on retail at AlixPartners, an advisory firm. Online revenues are 13.8% higher compared to a year ago.

Millennials, who are often one of the trickiest consumer groups for retailers, were big spenders this past weekend. As a quick example, Apple over the course of Black Friday weekend reportedly sold 6 million iPhone X units, with most of those purchases being for the pricier - and more margin-friendly - 256GB model.

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But this year, whether a sale is made online or in a store, is becoming less important, Federation President and Chief Executive Matthew Shay said in a conference call Tuesday to announce the results.

The survey further found that more than 64 million people shopped online and in stores, making use of both platforms through Cyber Monday. But the firm added the decline in traffic was less than 1 percent on Black Friday, evidence that stores still remain an integral part of the busy shopping period.

The research firm said the $6.59 billion spent on a day dedicated to e-commerce was a 16.8 percent increase from a year ago and resulted in the largest US online shopping day in history.

Top shopping destinations included department stores (43%), online retailers (42%), electronic stores (32%), clothing and accessories stores (31%), and discount stores (also 31%).

And almost a third of Cyber Monday purchases were made on a mobile device, according to Adobe.

The busiest shopping day of the year was busier than all busy days in the past, according to computer software giant Adobe. The fact that shopper visits outlasted intact on Black Friday demonstrates that physical retail is still highly appropriate and when done right, it was profitable.

Neil Stern, a senior partner at Chicago-based McMillan-Doolittle, experienced it firsthand as national retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Amazon.com and Target Corp. competed for sales by offering discounts and promotions.

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