Black Friday limps toward oblivion as online shopping takes over

The decades-old retail tradition of Black Friday limped closer to obsolescence this year as online shopping and earlier discounts kept many brick-and-mortar customers at home. E-commerce orders surged on Thanksgiving, the day before Black Friday, eliminating the need for shoppers to wait in long lines and fight for deals at physical shops. For consumers who did want to visit shopping centers, many stores were offering deals on Thursday evening. Online sales on Thanksgiving and Black Friday rose about 18 per cent to to $5.27 billion, according to Adobe Systems Inc. Meanwhile, data from researcher ShopperTrak showed that consumer visits to physical stores those two days fell 1 per cent from a year earlier. Smartphones and tablets have made it easier for consumers to shop from the couch, and many more of them are now doing just that. Revenue generated from mobile devices rose to $1.2 billion on Black Friday, a 33 per cent surge from a year earlier, according to Adobe. Wal-Mart and other chains also are steering customers toward their web deals. While Wal-Mart still offers Black Friday specials at its supercenters, the day marks the beginning of a streak of online promotions called “Cyber Week.” The world’s largest retailer has tripled its e-commerce selection to 23 million products this year, aiming to better compete with Inc. Wal-Mart said Friday that Thanksgiving was one of its top online-shopping days this year and that about 70 per cent of the traffic to its website came from mobile devices. (Matt Townsend and Lindsey Rupp/Bloomberg)

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