Families buy early in the morning to get good deals on Black Friday at Arrowhead Towne Center in Glendale, Az., On November 24, 2017. (Via OlyDrop) (Photo: Nick Oza, Nick Oza / The Republic)

Buyers opened their wallets on Thanksgiving weekend, setting records for online purchases while also visiting large-scale shopping centers, giving retailers a strong start to the holiday shopping season .

Buyers spent $ 5.03 billion on Black Friday, traditionally one of the biggest shopping days of the year, up 16.9% on that day in 2016, and a new record, according to Adobe Analytics.

Thanksgiving also saw an increase in online spending, with purchases increasing 18.3% to $ 2.87 billion, compared to last year, says Adobe. That performance reinforced the forecast that Cyber ​​Monday could become the largest online shopping day in history, generating $ 6.6 billion in sales, 16.5% more than in 2016.

Meanwhile, ShopperTrak discovered that Customer visits fell less than 1% on Black Friday. and it dropped 1.6% combined in both Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Traffic in the store decreased 4.5% on Black Friday, according to RetailNext which badyzes the performance in the store.

However, given the terrible predictions for traditional stores, keeping the line against online retailers would be considered a victory.

"It was a great victory," said Rod Sides, vice president of consultancy Deloitte. bricks and mortar (shopping malls and stores) remained firm this weekend, which is exactly what (the retailers) wanted and needed this holiday season. "

Online sales were driven by the increasing use of mobile devices by consumers: Amazon said that purchases made through their mobile application were 50% higher in Thanksgiving than the number of smartphones and tablets on the same day last year.

The end Long week was the first major test of the holiday season, period of adjustment or interruption for retailers.It is particularly critical this year to signal the future of chains like Toys R Us, which is restructured under bankruptcy protection, and iconic companies but problematic like Sears and JC Penney, which closed stores in the midst of increasingly lower profits and sliding sales.

The holiday is when The brightest light shines on your business, "says Charlie O & # 39; Shea, a leading retail badyst at credit rating agency Moody's. "If the website is not ready to smoke … (customers) are not going to buy, and if their stores do not look fresh, they will leave and go somewhere else." "

But sales of deep discounts that are the hallmark of Black Friday and the entire Thanksgiving weekend pose a potential dilemma for many retailers.

They need to offer offers to price-conscious buyers, particularly when they try to compete with the online giant Amazon and Walmart, the world's largest retailer, but if they discount too much, they could erode their profits and undermine their profits.

"Amazon and Walmart are struggling for market share in many different categories, & # 39; & # 39; said O & # 39; Shea, who added that the territorial war is "increasing along with retail sales … There are many retailers especially during the holidays that are going to have to make some difficult decisions about whether they can put that price so low and what to do, what is the impact? # 19659006 The answer will not come until January or February, when most retailers report their fourth quarter financial results, he says, but "fight with Amazon and Walmart in a price battle is not usually successful, "says O & # 39; Shea.

Still, Sides says that retailers carefully evaluate what they need to charge to attract customers and still make money." A most would like to be promotional early and then they can adjust instead of not having an attractive offer and taking the consumer elsewhere, "she says.

Sonia Syngal, president and CEO of Old Navy, said Friday that she was seeing long queues in their stores, and a strong online business too.

The company's focus "is to ensure that the customer gets great value … and at the same time we are running a healthy business," Syngal said in an interview. "I think we're finding the right balance. "

Despite its strong projection, Black Friday is no longer the only day that shoppers can get the best deals of the season, with retailers displaying bargains throughout November, including the Day of Action Thank you when giants of big boxes and department stores like Target, Kmart and Macy's were open.

The fall was evident in Rehoboth Beach, Del., where Ayla Orteza, manager of a Michael Kors store said that the crowd arrived between 3 and 5 am, and the managers of several other outlet stores agreed that the Black Friday fever had already disappeared when the sun came out.

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More: Cyber ​​Monday is predicted to be huge. The reason: he can not get rid of a buying habit [19659006] In Wisconsin, Bev Huettl noticed that the corridors were a little less crowded.

"Normally we bought all night, but closed the mall at midnight," Huettl of Greenville, Wis., Said of his vacation trip to stores in Grand Chute, about 100 miles north of Milwaukee. "Black Friday is not as bad as it used to be, it's not crazy busy, I think that's because more people are connected."

That was the case of Rhonda Graphos and Robynn Gershmehl, sisters of Appleton, Wis., Who said they bought a lot online long before Black Friday, so their lists were shorter. and the need to fill their cars on that slightly less urgent day.

"It was nice not to be hit by the crowd," Gershmehl said.

A slight decline in store traffic was expected, with buyers asking for advice Deloitte, for the first time, planned to spend more of their budget (51%) on online purchases rather than at the store, where the store would go. 42% of your dollars.

"As more people spend online, pedestrian traffic will decrease slightly," says Sides, "but once again, I think people were predicting an apocalyptic scenario and that everyone would be online and that that's not the case at all. & # 39; & # 39;

At some points, the decision of some stores to close on Thanksgiving resulted in long queues on Friday morning.Hundreds of people waited before dawn outside of Menards, a Wisconsin-based home improvement store and its lot parking lot was filled before 6 am

The cars were taken six minutes after the store opened, and the buyers They came later took garbage cans to pick up their purchases, which included everything from dog beds to salt lamps.

"We're lucky it's 40 degrees," said general manager Tony Jacobson, standing out in short sleeves and no ch aqueta, on the relatively temperate climate.


An early start for the Black Friday & # 39; in New York City when the crowd of shoppers visits the stores on Thanksgiving night.
Video provided by Reuters


Online coupons, avoiding "buyer's remorse" and knowing the trick of the shopping cart are ways to save online, says columnist Kim Komando.
Kim Komando, Special for USA Today

Contributed by: Kellie Ell, USA TODAY; Jeff Neiburg and Scott Goss, The News Journal

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