Resistance is futile: holiday shopping overtaking Thanksgiving

Retailers may as well start devising their 2013 Black Friday plans now based on the popularity of this year’s early openings on Thanksgiving.

The Thanksgiving evening openings by the likes of Walmart, Toys ‘R’ Us, Target, Sears and Kmart were denounced in some quarters as being anti-family, but a few vocal critics didn’t speak for the majority of shoppers who turned out in droves and spent with gusto.

In-store sales for the full 24 hours of Thanksgiving registered a 70.8% increase over Thanksgiving Day 2011 driven by an incredible 251% increase in year-over-year sales between 6 p.m. and midnight, according to the 7th annual Chase Holiday Pulse from the Chase Paymentech subsidiary of JPMorgan Chase. The Pulse combines aggregated payment processing data from 50 of the firm’s largest U.S. e-commerce merchants and this year for the first time integrated aggregated Chase cardholder spending data at brick-and-mortar merchants.

For the same 24 hour Thanksgiving Day period transactions volume increased 14% and average ticket increased 24%. However, the Thanksgiving Day gains appeared to come at the expense of some Black Friday in-store activity. Chase Holiday Pulse data shows sales dropped 7.2%, transaction volume decreased by 3.6%, and average tickets was down 3.7% when compared to the prior year.

On the e-commerce side, Black Friday sales increased 15.2% from 2011, transactions increased by nearly 30%, but average ticket was down 11.3%, suggesting shoppers were very active online buying lower ticket items.

"This year is looking like a merry holiday season for retailers with Black Friday sales starting earlier than ever, proving once again to be a bright spot for merchants," said Mia Shernoff, EVP for Chase Paymentech. "We'll see what the numbers look like after Cyber Monday and at seasons-end, but Black Friday deals online and in stores, coupled with aggressive marketing weeks in advance and more stores open on Thanksgiving, are ensuring a promising start to the holiday shopping season."