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Early start hurts Black Friday sales, Cyber Monday hits record

People shop at a Target store during Black Friday sales in the Brooklyn borough of New York, November 29, 2013. REUTERS/Eric Thayer
People shop at a Target store during Black Friday sales in the Brooklyn borough of New York, November 29, 2013. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

By Phil Wahba

(Reuters) - U.S. retailers rolled out holiday promotions earlier in November this year, denting sales growth over the Thanksgiving weekend that typically marks the beginning of the holiday spending period, according to data released Tuesday by ShopperTrak.

But online, sales grew at a torrid pace, rising 22 percent between Thursday and Cyber Monday, according to data firm comScore. That does not include sales made using a mobile device such as a smart phone or a tablet.

On Cyber Monday, the biggest day of the year for e-commerce in the United States, sales rose 18.4 percent to $1.735 billion, a record for a single day, according to comScore. Cyber Monday fell on December 2 this year.

The long Thanksgiving weekend sets the tone for the holiday season, when retailers get about 30 percent of their annual sales.

Total in-store sales between Thanksgiving Day on Thursday and Sunday rose 1 percent compared to the same period last year while the number of visits to stores fell 4 percent, ShopperTrak said. ShopperTrak has forecast sales at stores will rise 2.4 percent for November and December together.

"Retailers stretched Black Friday deals and promotions across November - removing the focus from just one big day of shopping," said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin.

During "Black Weekend" 2013, shoppers spent an estimated $22.2 billion, compared to last year's $22 billion, said ShopperTrak.

On Sunday, the National Retail Federation estimated Americans had spent 2.9 percent less over the weekend.

Shoppers appeared to be waiting a bit longer to do their Christmas shopping, perhaps holding out for deals. An Ipsos poll of almost 1,400 Americans over the weekend found 77 percent had done at least some of their holiday shopping by Black Friday, compared to 81 percent on the same day last year.

MOBILE BOOM

According to IBM data, sales through mobile devices rose 55 percent.

The biggest beneficiaries of the surge in online sales were marketplaces run by e-commerce leaders Amazon.com Inc and eBay Inc, according to data released by ChannelAdvisor, a provider of e-commerce software to retailers that tracks online sales.

Sales on Amazon's and eBay's marketplaces rose 30 percent on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Amazon and eBay's marketplaces did well in part because how well suited their sites are to use on mobile devices, said ChannelAdvisor CEO Scot Wingo.

"One of the reasons they're taking market shares is the growth of mobile," Wingo said.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc said Monday was the all-time highest online sales day but declined to give a dollar amount or the rate of growth compared with last year.

(Reporting by Phil Wahba in New York; Editing by Krista Hughes and Bob Burgdorfer)

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