Most retailers are no doubt hoping that Black Friday will be indicative of the holiday shopping season overall. According to research firm ShopperTrak RTC, retail sales this past Friday were up 6% from the comparable Friday of last year. ShopperTrak estimates sales for the day after Thanksgiving at $8.96 billion.
But in a release, ShopperTrak cofounder Bill Martin points out that Black Friday isn’t always an accurate forecaster of the season as a whole: “Although we anticipated a solid consumer turnout for Black Friday, this data shows an even larger increase than expected as consumers proved they were willing to spend. Because Black Friday isn’t the greatest bellwether for the season’s performance, retailers need to remain cautious, but undoubtedly this type of a season opening is a nice shot in the arm for the industry.”
Year-over-year Black Friday online sales also increased—by a lot. But the exact percentage is open to debate. Retail Decisions, a provider of fraud prevention and payment processing services, says that Web sales for the day after Thanksgiving soared 109%. The peak shopping hour was 3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. Eastern time, with the peak shopping minute 2.53 p.m.
But research firm comScore Networks estimates that online retail sales for Black Friday climbed a more modest—though still significant—42%. Excluding travel and auction sales, retail Web sales for the day after Thanksgiving were $434 million, according to comScore.