Preliminary data indicates Black Friday sales got off to a roaring start this year, with consumers shopping earlier and online sales increasing significantly over last year.
Retailers across the board reported strong crowds early Friday, with high-definition televisions, laptops, winter coats and the popular toy Zhu-Zhu pets among the hottest items. “There were bargain-hungry shoppers out there, and retailers really did pull out all the stops for people,” says Kathy Grannis, a spokesperson for the National Retail Federation, noting that many of the day’s hot item carried the steepest discounts. See the top 10 things you didn’t know about Thanksgiving.
Some of the sales bump is likely resulting from an expansion of the Black Friday sales hours. Many brick-and-mortar retailers opened their doors as early as midnight rather than the traditional 6 a.m. shotgun start, and some offered their door-crasher deals online even earlier on Thanksgiving day. “Many retailers took their Black Friday sale items and put them online on Thursday starting just after midnight on Wednesday,” says Fiona Dias, executive vice president of strategy and marketing for GSI Commerce, a company that runs about 80 e-commerce websites for retailers and fashion designers. “This was a major shift this year.”
One sign of this trend: PayPal reported a 25% increase in the dollar volume of sales on Thanksgiving Day from the same day a year ago, according to Amanda Pires, senior director at PayPal. The online pay site is used by consumers to make purchases at online retailers and at its sister site, eBay.