Holiday shopping season: And they’re off…

Several reports indicate that the holiday shopping season is off to a solid start.

A National Retail Federation (NRF) survey conducted by BIGresearch shows that 75.6% of consumers were out shopping the weekend following Thanksgiving. In addition, the survey shows that for the Nov. 14-Nov. 30 period, the average consumer completed 38.7% of his holiday shopping.

NRF president/CEO Tracy Mullin attributes the shopping rush to a combination of factors, including six fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, retailers advertising sales more aggressively than in the past, and an early Hanukkah this year—the first night was Nov. 29. compared with Dec. 9 last year.

Meanwhile, according to BizRate.com, online sales for Friday, Nov. 29—the day after Thanksgiving, aka Black Friday–were $234.2 million. That’s up 61% from Nov. 23, 2001, the day after Thanksgiving last year. Overall online spending was strong throughout November, up 37%, to $5.4 billion, from November 2001.

And according to the Nielsen/Net Rating Holiday eCommerce Index, 18% more consumers shopped online on Black Friday than had shopped the four days prior. Compared with the Friday before Thanksgiving, the number of unique visitors to consumer shopping sites increased 36%.

Consumer electronics Websites enjoyed the largest Friday-over-Friday increase in traffic—111%–followed by sites selling books, music, and videos (76%) and those selling apparel (61%). Websites selling specialty gifts saw traffic drop 10%, and home and garden e-commerce sites suffered a 6% drop in Friday-over-Friday traffic.

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