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When did the most Black Friday weekend sales really occur?

Online transactions rose during Thanksgiving weekend, however that’s not when the strongest growth happened.

This was according to data from Hitwise that revealed the top 50 retail sites processed 75.1 million transactions via desktop and mobile browsers during the seven days ending Monday, Nov. 26. This was up from 65.5 million for the same period in 2017, an increase of 15%.

However, non-peak days posted transaction increases of 20%, on average, versus 11% growth on the three peak days of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The day before Thanksgiving is becoming especially important, as daily transactions reached 7.6 million this year, up 40% from the day before Thanksgiving in 2017.

“Interestingly, the three peak shopping days—while posting increases strong increases—saw their share of peak week transactions decline slightly to 59% from 61% year-over-year, pointing to a growing importance of the non-peak days of peak week,” said John Fetto, Hitwise senior analyst.

Overall, 44.5 million transactions were completed on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, up from 40.0 million in 2017. Cyber Monday was again the top buying day of the week with 16 million transactions (up from 14.6 million in 2017), followed by Black Friday with 14.8 million transactions (up from 13.0 million in 2017). Thanksgiving Day had 13.7 million transactions (up from 12.5 million in 2017).

When it came to overall online visits, there were 2.3 billion visits during peak week, up a modest 2.4% year-over-year. Traffic to these sites the week prior was up 3.7% year-over-year, providing evidence that Americans were lured online earlier than usual by week-long Black Friday sales.

Amazon still dominated the week, accounting for 26% of visits, and 59% of all transactions processed by the top 50 retailers. However, Amazon’s share of both visits and transactions were at their lowest point of the year during peak week due to intense competition from other retailers. By comparison, between January and October, Amazon accounts for 31% of visits and 79% of transactions, data revealed.

Year-over-year, top retailers captured a greater concentration of sales across the top three days of peak week. Specifically, sales were up 3% among the top 10 retailers. Among those top retailers, some performed better than others. Amazon, for instance, saw transactions increase between 11% and 18% over the three peak shopping days and even managed to capture a slightly greater share of transactions this year versus last.

Kohl’s, Target and Costco, however, posted among the strongest growth year-over-year in terms of transactions. Kohl’s saw transactions increase 51% over the three peak shopping days, and share of transactions increased 35%. Target, saw transactions increase 48%, and share increased 33%. Costco’s transactions increased 61% and share rose 45%, according to the study.
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