Online Retail Passes In-Store Shopping For Black Friday Weekend

Going online for your Black Friday sales fix is now just as popular as trudging out to the mall to shop, according to a new survey from the National Retail Federation.

According to the survey results [PDF], more Americans did their shopping online than in stores each day of the holiday weekend.

This includes Black Friday, the most-hyped in-store shopping day of the year. The survey says that 72.8% of respondents did in-store shopping on the day after Thanksgiving, a hair shy of the 73.1% who shopped online.

That was by far the narrowest margin between the two shopping methods. Online also beat out bricks-and-mortar on Thanksgiving (39.8% vs. 34%), and on Saturday (49% vs. 45.9%) and Sunday (32.9% vs. 19.1%).

The huge disparity on Sunday’s numbers seems to indicate that consumers get exhausted with the physical process of shopping — driving, parking, browsing, waiting in line — but they still want to look for good deals while they’re available.

According to the survey, slightly more than half of the in-store shoppers said they couldn’t pass up the savings. This seems to indicate that price is the key factor in their decision. Meanwhile, only 31.2% said they hit the stores because it’s a tradition. Those people will continue to show up every year, but you can expect online shopping to only grow more popular as the savings-oriented consumers realize they can get most, if not all, the in-store deals from the comfort of their home.

The NRF survey does give credence to some retailers’ insistence on opening their doors Thanksgiving evening. When breaking down the hourly in-store visits on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, the single biggest time for shopping was not Black Friday morning, but 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving — the hour when several major retailers opened for business.

More than 13% of people who shopped in stores this weekend showed up at that time, significantly more than other popular hours like midnight (4%) and 6 a.m. (5%), or 9 a.m. (7.8%) on Friday.