Thanksgiving Day E-Commerce Sales Hit a New Record as Mobile Shopping Surges

Turkey, football, pumpkin pie — online shopping?

If this year is any indication, Americans have a new Thanksgiving tradition, as online retail sales soared to their highest level ever — $3.7 billion — the day before Black Friday, according to real-time data from Adobe Analytics. The figure represents a 28 percent increase over last year’s turkey day total and easily beat the $3.35 billion predicted by the digital analytics firm.

What’s behind the surge in early-bird shopping? Mostly mobile commerce, it turns out. smartphones drove a record 54.4 percent of traffic to retail sites on Thanksgiving Day, and they were responsible for 36.7 percent of all e-commerce sales. While desktops ultimately accounted for more purchases (52.8 percent), shoppers seemed to prefer browsing on their cellphones, as desktop traffic fell to 36.5 percent from 44.3 percent in 2017.

What remains to be seen is whether this is a harbinger of massive sales ahead on Black Friday and Cyber Monday or whether Thanksgiving Day is now gobbling up some of the sales that used to come later in the week as retailers try to gain an edge with early discounts.

The National Retail Federation predicts holiday retail sales to rise between 4.3 and 4.8 percent in November and December over the same period last year, for a total of between $717.45 billion and $720.89 billion.

The climate is right for a blockbuster holiday season, with consumer confidence hitting an 18-year high in October and unemployment at a near 50-year low — and, more literally, with cold temperatures on the East Coast driving shoppers toward winter boots and coats.

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