Traffic Slower For Black Friday As Shoppers Head Online

Shoppers are continuing to change where and how they spend during the holidays and this Black Friday was no different.

The unofficial kickoff to the all-important shopping season showed more shoppers spending sooner and more frequently buying online.

Early reports show that many shoppers hit brick and mortar stores yesterday, on Thanksgiving Day. The National Retail Federation estimated 99.8 million shoppers were out for Black Friday today. Overall the Federation anticipates 135.8 million shoppers out spending during the long weekend.

Target reported that a week of Black Friday deals helped push shoppers into the store on thanksgiving and grow buzz. The company said it saw a 35 percent increase in buy-online/pickup in-store this year.

Online sales for Thanksgiving were already up 26 percent year over year according to IBM Watson Trend, which tracks and analyzes retail revenue and trends.

There is definitely a trade off for some retailers doing more promotions earlier and introducing online into the equation for better cross-channel sales: it means not as many shoppers were out and about on Black Friday as has been historically seen.

Oliver Chen, an analyst at Cowen, underscored the importance of online to this year’s holiday and Black Friday. In a note he noted lighter than usual traffic in stores and more online buzz.

“Combined with the improved convenience of online shopping thru mobile ordering & in-store pickup options and the seamless availability of deals online, we believe standing in-line for doorbusters is losing its appeal. Simply put, the consumer is becoming much more savvy and sophisticated, reducing the need to wait in-line,” said Chen.

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