Walmart and Target reported strong sales on Thanksgiving Day as Black Friday got its earliest start with doors opening before many shoppers had finished holiday dinners, while online and mobile helped fuel gains.
Walmart (NYSE:WMT) stores opened at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day and, in spite of planned protests, shoppers turned out to snap up door busters. More than 20 million Walmart shoppers downloaded and used the retailer's local store maps to navigate deals.
"Tablets, TVs, sheets, children's apparel and video games were the top five categories of the night in our stores," according to Laura Phillips, senior VP of merchandising, Walmart. U.S.. Electronics were among the most in-demand products, and the best deals, across all stores in the early hours at Walmart, Target, Best Buy and others, were for large screen TVs at some of the lowest prices ever tracked by deal sites.
Tech spending overall was expected to jump this year according to the Consumer Electronics Association, which expects 36 percent of U.S. adults will buy tech over the holiday shopping weekend, a five percentage point increase over 2013.
Not everyone went to stores, however. Walmart saw its second-highest online sales day ever, after Cyber Monday last year.
"Last night was awesome," said Phillips. "In a few short hours, we flipped from being the largest grocery store in town to the best gift shop on the block. Not only did we have millions of customers shopping our stores, but we're confident Walmart was the first stop of the night for most of them. We saw lines for tablets and TVs snaking throughout the stores."
Walmart's one-hour guarantee helped alleviate the stampedes and skirmishes of years past as shoppers left with their intended items.
Target's (NYSE:TGT) ticketing system and an early Thanksgiving Day opening helped fuel the retailer's strong early Black Friday sales in stores and online. For the first time this year, Target offered a pre-sale of select Black Friday deals in stores and online beginning Wednesday, Nov. 26. By 9 a.m., online sales had already exceeded total sales from the same day last year.
Top online items at Target were the iPad Air 2, Beats by Dre Solo HD headphones and the Intex Pure Spa Inflatable Hot Tub. In stores, demand was high for electronics and housewares with the iPad Air 2, Beats by Dre Solo HD headphones and the iPad Mini selling best.
Best online holiday deals to hit Thanksgiving Day
86% of retailers expect an increase in online holiday sales
SMB online holiday sales expected to grow 9%
Weaker holiday sales projected, except for certain retailers
Retailers add 37,600 jobs in October as holiday hiring shifts into full gear