Watch CBS News

"Cyber Friday," anyone? Online sales besting in-store sales

Black Friday goes mobile
Mobile apps dominate Black Friday shopping 02:26

Clicks are on course to surpass bricks over the Thanksgiving holiday for the first time, as more shoppers migrate online from physical stores. The four-day weekend marks the unofficial start of the year-end retail frenzy. 

Shoppers will spend an estimated 51 percent of their holiday budgets this weekend via e-commerce, according to a survey by consulting firm Deloitte. Last year the online-shopping number was about 49 percent.

This is good news for the likes of, although traditional store chains such as Target and Walmart are fighting back with their own web offerings. Walmart, for instance, has unveiled a new mobile app and tripled the number of goods available from its e-commerce site.

137 million people expected to shop Thanksgiving weekend 06:15

E-commerce was off to a strong start, with Thanksgiving Day online shopping at $1.93 billion, according to Adobe Digital Insight, up 11.5 percent from last year. Mobile purchases, using phones and tablets, accounted for 57 percent of the online total. 

For the entire November-December holiday season, Forrester Research forecasts that online sales will exceed the $100 billion mark, surging 17 percent to $112 billion. 

On Friday, Macy’s website was so jammed that shoppers reportedly had to wait as long as several minutes to connect -- an eternity in Internet time for some consumers. A company spokesperson confirmed to CBS News that “high volume” on “has slowed traffic” and “we are working quickly to alleviate the delay issue.” Macy’s Black Friday deals will remain available online through midnight on Saturday, the spokesperson said.

For more tips on budgeting and spending for the festive season, see our annual Holiday Financial Guide

How the holiday sales, whether in physical or digital outlets, translates to retailers’ bottom lines remains to be seen. Rampant discounting is more intense this year. A research note from Bank of America Merrill Lynch pointed out that “the consumer remains price-conscious.” 

As shoppers go mobile for Black Friday weekend, experts warn of cybertheft 02:36

Even Apple is rampantly discounting, with shoppers getting a $50 gift card to buy an iPhone and $25 for an Apple Watch.

That said, people still clogged physical stores. Kohl’s department stores reported record Thanksgiving sales, a bright spot for the department store chain, which like others has seen a dip in same-store sales, as online retail has claimed more of the consumer’s dollar.

Brian Motzko is making his usual trip to the Mall of America in Minnesota early Friday while visiting relatives for Thanksgiving.

The Cedar Falls, Iowa resident says he’s doing all his Christmas shopping on Black Friday, buying gifts for himself, his wife and family “until my card blows up.” He says, “I’ve got two teenage girls. It’s whatever.”

Motzko says he scored 70 percent off cookware at Williams-Sonoma and was on the hunt for a Bluetooth speaker. He said the nation’s largest shopping center seemed less packed than in years past.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.