United States online Black Friday sales hit record $7.4 bn

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Black Friday: Holiday Shopping Gets a Trump Economy Boost

With hours still remaining for shoppers to take advantage of Black Friday sales, the annual shopping event is already shattering records. Smartphone sales witnessed an increase of 24.4% compared with last year's figures.

"We're not seeing any slowdown in Black Friday" as a result of the big Thanksgiving turnout online, Woosley said.

The rise in mobile sales is on track with Adobe's predictions from earlier this month that smartphones will continue to play a significant role in holiday shopping.

Adobe Analytics said Thanksgiving Day set records for online shopping.

This year, Adobe Analytics expects online sales on Cyber Monday to reach US$9.4 billion, up by 18.9 percent from 2018.

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Retail sales at brick-and-mortar stores are expected to grow 2% in November and 6% in December, thanks to favorable weather and a "year-end surge in disposable income", according to IBM, which utilizes artificial intelligence to analyze US Census and retail data. Costco.com experienced "intermittent slow load and transaction times" starting late evening on Wednesday, according to Catchpoint. For almost a decade, that official kickoff has been creeping ever closer to Thanksgiving, eating into time people used to spend around the holiday table.

Costco is now flagging "longer than normal response time" on its website.

And, according to studies by worldwide consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers, only 36% of people plan to go out and shop on Black Friday compared to 51% just three years ago.

Sides acknowledged there are no new must haves and numerous big items like Instant Pot, a leader in the slow cooker category, were highlighted in past Black Friday circulars. It all just depends on what's on your shopping list.

"Black Friday isn't as important as it was in the past, but it is still the biggest shopping day", Sides said. What's more, the personal saving rate has been higher this year than in the recent past, indicating that consumers may have more to spend if merchants to convince them to part with some of their saving.

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All the online shopping may have helped thin the crowd at malls on Black Friday.

Spot checks on the ground showed there were fewer shoppers this year as retail chains started offering discounts earlier than usual to make up for a shorter holiday season this year.

Shopping experts have blamed some of the lack of shopping on Black Friday due to the popularity of on-line shopping which saves customers time, gas, and money.

Sales for the full holiday season will total between US$727.9 billion and US$730.7 billion, according to NRF forecasts.

With Thanksgiving always being on the fourth Thursday in November, Black Friday will be on 29 November this year.

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