This is how Black Friday began

A term coined in 1869 has become an annual event for retailers.

Posted: Nov 25, 2018 2:20 PM
Updated: Nov 25, 2018 2:24 PM

The holiday shopping season got off to a hot start as consumers flooded into stores and logged onto e-commerce sites in search of deals.

Real-time figures from Mastercard projected that overall sales totaled $23 billion on Black Friday alone. That's up about 9% from the day after Thanksgiving last year.

Mastercard projects that overall holiday sales from November 1 through Christmas Eve should grow by 5% this year.

"We've gotten off to a very good start," said Steve Sadove, Mastercard senior advisor. "Both online and in-store sales are both tracking very well."

ShopperTrak, a firm that monitors in-store traffic, said Saturday that foot traffic at brick-and-mortar stores is still on the decline — but not by much. Store visits were down by about 1.7% on Black Friday and Thanksgiving.

"The fact that the ... shopper visits remained almost the same this year compared to the last three years proves that the notion of Black Friday not being popular anymore is a myth," Brian Field, senior director of global retail consulting for ShopperTrak, said in a statement. "Retailers are in for a successful holiday season."

More and more Black Friday shoppers were turning online to score discounts and deals.

Adobe, which tracks digital sales, reported that online purchases on Friday were up nearly 23.6% compared to last year, with shoppers spending $6.22 billion.

Very cold weather in the Northeast might be helping online sales growth on Friday, Mastercard's Sadove said.

Electronics are a hot sellers. Adobe reported that the Nintendo Switch is the most popular item online, and Sadove said the new line of digital assistants and smart home products are attracting buyers.

The strong holiday sales are being fueled in part by a healthy economy, which features low unemployment and some gains in average income. High levels of consumer confidence also help.

In addition, the calendar is favorable for a strong holiday shopping season. Thanksgiving came earlier this year, and Christmas falls on a Tuesday. That schedule is expected to result in Sunday December 23 sales that match Black Friday sales figures.

Without Toys "R" Us, which went out of business this past year, many retailers are looking for a toy boost.

Sadove refers to as a "land grab" of retailers trying to up their toy offerings as a way to attract shoppers.

Beyond the leaders - Walmart, Target and Amazon - Best Buy is also making a major push to sell toys. And grocer Kroger's is offering toys using the old Toys "R" Us Geoffrey the giraffe mascot with its "Geoffrey's Toy Box."

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