Updated! We’re still only halfway into Black Friday 2016 but early indications suggest it’ll be one for the record books.
A combination of post-election tension release; a wider array of online doorbusters; and the need to walk off that Thanksgiving Day meal are sending millions of Americans to shopping malls and smartphone keypads.
Already Target is reporting millions of store visits during the lead-up to Black Friday, when doors opened at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving night, and a record day for dot-com, with yesterday’s double-digit growth eclipsing traffic and sales for Cyber Monday 2015.
Driving the online surge: CE doorbusters and mobile shopping. Target said TVs were a top seller, with more than 3,200 sets sold every minute in the first hour of store opening, while sales of wearables were up 50 percent.
Customers were also snatching up:
*gaming products, with 500,000 titles sold by 7 p.m. last night;
*headphones, with sales up five-fold year-over-year; and
*Apple products, reflecting discounts on iPad Air 2, iPad Pro and Apple Watch Series 1.
Many of the doorbusters were purchased over phones and tablets, with mobile comprising more than 60 percent of Target’s online sales.
Mobile traffic was even greater at Walmart.com, where more than 70 percent of visits during the discounter’s Black Friday event were driven by handheld devices, the company reported.
The shift to handset shopping was further confirmed by Adobe Digital Insights (ADI), which reported a 58.6 percent increase in mobile-originated sales on Thanksgiving, to a record $449 million between midnight and 5 p.m. EST, compared to total online sales of $1.2 billion.
Top-selling products included HP Inspiron PCs, iPads and Samsung 4K TVs, Adobe found, although shoppers were spending 13 percent less on video game consoles, 7 percent less on TVs and 15 percent less on computers than last year, due in part to lower prices.
ADI said its numbers are based on aggregated and anonymous data from 23 billion visits to retail websites, measuring 80 percent of all online transactions from the top 100 U.S. retailers, and representing $7.50 of every $10 spent with the top 500 retailers.
Get ADI’s up-to-the-minute online sales tallies here
TVs (cited by 43 percent) and tablets (cited by 34 percent) also topped the Black Friday tech lists of 1,010 shoppers queried by Field Agent, a mystery shopper and marketplace intelligence service, with questions contributed by TWICE. Other leading CE contenders: wearables and laptops (each cited by 32 percent); gaming systems (30 percent); and headphones (28 percent).
As to where they’re buying all this gear, most (71 percent) said national retail chains; 54 percent said online via computer; 50 percent said via smartphone; and 36 percent said they’d shop their local independent CE dealer.
This year, even Apple is getting into the spirit of Black Friday with a rare "one-day shopping event” that offers gift cards-with-purchase of older-model watches, iPhones, iPads and Macs.
The glad tidings are expected to extend throughout the holiday weekend, when, based on a National Retail Federation (NRF) poll, an estimated 137.4 million consumers are projected to shop, up 58.7 percent from last year.
The survey found that 21 percent of weekend shoppers planned to shop on Thanksgiving Day, nearly the same as last year’s 22 percent. But Black Friday will remain the busiest day of the holiday weekend with 74 percent planning to shop that day, the same as in 2015.
Another 47 percent are expected to shop on Saturday, while 24 percent expect to shop on Sunday.
Broken out by age, 77 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds and 76 percent of 25 to 34-year-olds plan to shop over the weekend. But as with shoppers overall, Black Friday is the day most millennial weekend shoppers plan to shop, drawing 86 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds and 78 percent of 25 to 34-year-olds.
Indeed, a reporter from NBC affiliate WPTZ in Burlington, Vt., captured the Black Friday action at a local Best Buy, below, where staffers described the scene as "organized chaos":