Record Black Friday bodes well for holiday sales

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — The recession grinch may have to pack it up this holiday season, as initial spending indicated that this year's holidays are on track toward some pretty significant growth as compared with last year.

(THE NEWS: Black Friday proves to be record day for retail, NRF reports. For the full story, click here.)

Maybe it's the "super deals" that many retailers presented even before the pumpkin pie was placed on the Thanksgiving table, as those retailers sought to get a jump start on Black Friday sales a day early. Or maybe the cool, dry November weather that was in stark contrast to the rain storms earlier in the month got people to walk off their holiday eating ... in a retail setting. Or, maybe, it's that "Last Christmas" message that end-of-the-world extremists are touting — better make sure that this year's holiday season is extra jolly, because there won't be another, they say. Happy Holidays!

Or maybe people are just spending again.

No matter the reason behind the spending, the fact that shoppers are spending bodes well for retailers who are looking to blow out some holiday merchandise this year. And it's not just Black Friday that was hopping — analysts were projecting a pretty strong Cyber Monday, too. comScore on Sunday reported that for the holiday season to date (first 25 days of November), $12.7 billion have been spent online, marking a 15% increase versus the corresponding days last year.

On Black Friday there were $816 million in online sales, making it the heaviest online spending day to date in 2011, and representing a 26% increase versus Black Friday 2010. And it turns out that many people who didn't want to join that pre-Black Friday shopping spree while the after-dinner coffee was brewing were satisfying that shopping bug online — Thanksgiving Day, while traditionally a lighter day for online holiday spending, achieved a strong 18% increase to $479 million in online sales, comScore reported.

The online Black Friday winners in terms of most-visited sites (and excluding auction sites) were, in order: Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Target and Apple, according to comScore.

“Despite some analysts’ predictions that the flurry of brick-and-mortar retailers opening their doors early for Black Friday would pull dollars from online retail, we still saw a banner day for e-commerce, with more than $800 million in spending,” stated comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “With brick-and-mortar retail also reporting strong gains on Black Friday, it’s clear that the heavy promotional activity had a positive impact on both channels. We now turn our attention to Cyber Monday, a day that says will see 8-in-10 retailers running special online promotions. Last year, Cyber Monday was the heaviest day of online spending ever, with sales exceeding $1 billion, and we fully expect to see another record set this year.”

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