Shoppers appeared to get a head-start on the Black Friday shopping scramble by resorting to online retail on Thanksgiving Day to commence the holiday shopping season. Among the top 500 retail websites, Experian Hitwise reports that visits increased 9% this year from 2010. Traffic increased steadily in each of the days leading up to the holiday but then jumped up 57% from Wednesday to Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. Monday, November 21, saw the greatest increase over last year with retail sites reporting a 21% increase in traffic compared to the Monday preceding Thanksgiving last year.
Online visitors to department stores such as Wal-Mart and Amazon represented the greatest amount of traffic on Thanksgiving as most online consumers (65%) gravitated to the top 20 retail sites. Unsurprisingly, Wal-Mart.com was once again the top-visited retail site on Thanksgiving Day, making that seven years in a row for the retail giant. Retailers of videos and games saw the greatest hike in traffic with 28% more visitors this year than last year.
Beyond the traffic increasing, online sales as a whole grew when compared to the same period from last year. IBM reports a 39.3% climb in general online sales this year and attributes the growing trend of shoppers using mobile devices in order to find sales as a significant factor for the surge. The greater mobility and accessibility of online shoppers have caused some speculation as to whether Thanksgiving Day will supplant Black Friday as the target shopping day for retailers. With Black Friday more and more resembling a Black Flag mosh pit as customers try to secure coveted discounts on gifts, it's hardly surprising that more consumers would opt out of the fisticuffs and remain unscathed while completing their holiday shopping.