Black Friday's $9B Weekend Haul Shatters Records

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Shoppers came out in droves over the Black Friday weekend, spending a record US$9.36 billion from Nov. 24-27, a 16.4 percent increase from a year ago, according to data from Adobe Digital Insights.

Black Friday sales hit a new record of $3.34 billion, a 21 percent jump from a year ago. This was the first-ever Black Friday with sales exceeding $3 billion. Thanksgiving Day sales came in at $1.93 billion, an 11.5 percent jump from a year ago.

Cyber Monday is expected to reach $3.36 billion, a 9.4 percent jump from a year go, according to Adobe. Sales already had reached the $540 million mark between midnight and 10 a.m.

Mobile revenue on Black Friday surpassed the $1 billion mark for the first time, reaching $1.2 billion, according to Adobe.

The top five best-selling tech items through Black Friday were Apple iPads, Samsung 4K televisions, the Apple Macbook Air, LG televisions and Microsoft Xbox consoles, according to the report. The top five toys were Lego Creator sets, Razor electric scooters, Nerf guns, DJI Phantom drones and the Barbie Dreamhouse.

The Adobe data comes from aggregated and anonymous data from 22.6 billion visits to retail sites. The company measures 80 percent of traffic from the top 100 U.S. retailers.

An estimated 154 million consumers shopped over the Thanksgiving weekend, up from 151 million a year ago, based on a survey of 4,330 customers conducted by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

Consumers spent $289.19 per person, the study estimates, a slight decrease from $299.60 a year ago. Gifts accounted for $214.13, or 74 percent of that total spend. Forty-four percent of survey participants shopped online, while 40 percent went to stores.

Black Friday was the top day to shop online, leading at 74 percent, an increase of 1.3 percent. Forty-nine percent shopped on Saturday, 36 percent shopped on Thanksgiving Day, and 34 percent shopped on Sunday, based on the survey results.

Twenty-nine percent of shoppers went into stores after 10 a.m. on Friday, up from 24 percent a year ago. Less than 15 percent of shoppers were Friday early birds, arriving before 6 a.m. About 7 percent of consumers shopped early Thanksgiving Day, or before 5 p.m, a decrease of 19 percent, the survey shows.

A record 135.9 million adults, or 57 percent of consumers, shopped or planned to shop over Black Friday week, which began last Monday and extends through Cyber Monday, according to the Consumer Technology Association, the trade group behind the annual CES. That represents a 6 percent increase from a year-ago.

"What we saw this week was perfectly consistent with those earlier forecasts," said Shawn DuBravac, chief economist at CTA.

A total of 61.7 million adults planned to buy tech products over the period, with 76 percent shopping in brick-and-mortar stores and 57 percent shopping online, the survey indicates. Of online shoppers, 43 percent are shopping on desktop or laptop computers, while 35 percent are shopping on tablets or smartphones.

Mobile orders from Amazon are on pace to surpass Black Friday sales from 2015, according to spokesperson Emily McDonald.

Mobile orders on Thanksgiving Day this year surpassed both Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday totals from 2015, she told the E-Commerce Times.

Alexa-powered devices are among the best selling items, including the Echo Dot and the Fire TV stick with Alexa voice remote. Other top items include the Instant Pot 7-in-1 Multifunction Cooker, Hasbro's Pie Face Game, the WeMo Switch Smart Plug (which works with Alexa), and Sennheiser HD 598 headphones.

Newegg experienced record performance, with sales up 22 percent on Thanksgiving Day, for its best ever and an 8 percent increase between last Monday and Friday, according to Merle McIntosh, senior vice president of sales and marketing.

Hot items included the HTV Vive and VR-ready laptops. In addition, gaming laptops have been selling "extremely well," according to the company, and drones are selling very fast.

"We do see people looking to upgrade their PCs to be ready for VR and the newer, more graphic-intensive video games," McIntosh told the E-Commerce Times, "so components like graphics cards, RAM and monitors are selling very well."

The sites of major retailers like Macys, Williams Sonoma and others suffered under the weight of heavy retail traffic, but to a lesser extent than in prior years.

"The 2013 to 2015 Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekends saw a few lengthy site outages by big-name retailers," observed CEO Mehdi Daoudi.

"I'd say we're in the year of mini-outages and slowdowns, some of which we are being resolved quickly, others slowly," he told the E-Commerce Times.

Many of the outages being reported were caused by third-party technologies used by the sites, Daoudi sait, noting that when a third-party element stalls or is unavailable, the host site is the one that often suffers the consequences.

Macys experienced a temporary site jam, and department store's mobile site had intermittent outages on Thursday, according to Catchpoint.

Williams-Sonoma had load time spikes of up to 25 percent on its desktop and mobile sites. Walmart was impacted by localized outages in Phoenix on Thursday and Friday, which Catchpoint attributed to the Rubicon Project, an ad tech company. Jet.com and L.L. Bean were hit Thursday night by site problems attributed to Pinterest tags.

Apple had the fastest-loading times of any desktop site, at 1.2 seconds, and Rakuten enjoyed the fastest loading among mobile sites, at 1.07 seconds, Catchpoint noted.

Target reported record-breaking online traffic, with its biggest day ever on Thanksgiving Day, spokesperson Kristy Welker said. Sixty percent of its online sales came via mobile devices.

"Millions of guests nationwide took advantage of early deals, our 6 p.m. store opening on Nov. 24, and great offers via online and mobile," she told the E-Commerce Times. "For Target's Order Pickup service, we saw an increase by 45 percent for orders made before 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, compared to last year's orders received prior to opening."

David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain's New York Business and The New York Times.

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