Early start hurts Black Friday sales, Cyber Monday hits record

Tue Dec 3, 2013 6:54pm EST
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By Phil Wahba

(Reuters) - U.S. retailers rolled out holiday promotions earlier in November this year, denting sales growth over the Thanksgiving weekend that typically marks the beginning of the holiday spending period, according to data released Tuesday by ShopperTrak.

But online, sales grew at a torrid pace, rising 22 percent between Thursday and Cyber Monday, according to data firm comScore. That does not include sales made using a mobile device such as a smart phone or a tablet.

On Cyber Monday, the biggest day of the year for e-commerce in the United States, sales rose 18.4 percent to $1.735 billion, a record for a single day, according to comScore. Cyber Monday fell on December 2 this year.

The long Thanksgiving weekend sets the tone for the holiday season, when retailers get about 30 percent of their annual sales.

Total in-store sales between Thanksgiving Day on Thursday and Sunday rose 1 percent compared to the same period last year while the number of visits to stores fell 4 percent, ShopperTrak said. ShopperTrak has forecast sales at stores will rise 2.4 percent for November and December together.

"Retailers stretched Black Friday deals and promotions across November - removing the focus from just one big day of shopping," said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin.

During "Black Weekend" 2013, shoppers spent an estimated $22.2 billion, compared to last year's $22 billion, said ShopperTrak.

On Sunday, the National Retail Federation estimated Americans had spent 2.9 percent less over the weekend.   Continued...

A Black Friday sale advertisement is posted inside a J.C. Penney store at the Glendale Galleria in Glendale, California November 29, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn