Thanksgiving sales surge online as shoppers stay home for holiday

Fri Nov 25, 2016 7:38am EST
 
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By Nandita Bose

(Reuters) - Online spending by U.S. bargain hunters climbed to above $1 billion by Thanksgiving evening, according to Adobe Digital Index, surging almost 14 percent from a year ago and reflecting a broader trend away from brick-and-mortar shopping.

At the start of the first holiday shopping season since the election of Donald Trump as president on November 8, U.S. consumers loosened their purse strings and spent $1.15 billion online between midnight and 5 pm ET on Thursday, according to Adobe.

Traditionally the day after Thanksgiving, or Black Friday, has started the holiday shopping season in the United States with retailers offering steep discounts and turning a profit. But its popularity has been on the wane given the emergence of online shopping and cheap deals through the year from retailers including e-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc AMZN.O.

U.S. stores are now opening on Thanksgiving to try and boost in-store sales, while retailers have been offering online deals weeks in advance to cope with lower demand and stiff pricing competition.

"We saw one of our strongest days ever online," Brian Cornell, chief executive of discount retailer Target T.N, told reporters on Thursday evening. He added that online sales grew by double digits, without giving further details.

The holiday season spanning November and December is crucial for retailers because it can account for as much as 40 percent of annual sales. Retailers try to attract shoppers with deep discounts, sometimes as much as 85 percent.

The National Retail Federation, which has been bullish with projections in the past, expects holiday sales to grow 3.6 percent this year to $655.8 billion.

"Online discounts are earlier and a lot bigger than last year," said Tamara Gaffney, principal research analyst at Adobe Digital Index.   Continued...

 
A customer loads his shopping cart at Target in Chicago. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski