Black Friday 2019 kicked off in full splendor on Friday, though one could be forgiven for being slightly confused at the number of available parking spots at the mall, or the lack of soul-crushing lineups at major retailers.
Indeed, the strength of the American consumer showed itself in full force both on Thanksgiving Thursday and on Black Friday, though much of that strength came from consumers more than willing to crack open their wallets and part with their hard-earned cash for deals and discounts - from the comfort of their homes.
Online sales on Thanksgiving Day were up 20% from a year ago and reached $2.1 billion as of 5 p.m. ET, according to Adobe Analytics, which tracks activity on thousands of websites. About 46% of those purchases were made on mobile devices, up from 34% a year ago, Adobe said.
Kohl's (KSS) - Get Report and J.C. Penney (JCP) - Get Report opened Thanksgiving afternoon and stayed open throughout the night while other stores, including Target (TGT) - Get Report and Best Buy (BBY) - Get Report , closed for a few hours and then reopened at 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. respectively.
However, early discounts offered by chains seeking to extend this year's shorter holiday season saw a dip in the numbers lining up at stores across the country, according to on-the-ground reports. Some 165.3 million Americans already have begun shopping or bargain hunting during the holiday, according to the National Retail Federation.
The creep of Black Friday beyond American borders may help some retailers who sell outside the U.S. Black Friday sales in Canada got off to a swift start as early as Tuesday, despite the country celebrating its own Thanksgiving holiday back in October. In Europe and parts of Asia, retailers also offered "Black Friday" discounts and incentives.
Black Friday for years has marked the official kickoff to the holiday shopping season and the time of year when shoppers get focused on holiday spending.
That rush of spending gave Black Friday its name, as in the time of year when retailers were "in the black." For nearly a decade, that official kickoff has been creeping ever closer to Thanksgiving, eating into time people used to spend around the holiday table.
Analysts and retailers are counting on the strong economy to prevent a repeat of last year, when spending got off to a strong start but slowed markedly in December over concerns of a government shutdown, a trade war and stock market turmoil.
For this year's November-December period, the National Retail Federation expects retail sales to rise between 3.8% and 4.2% to $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion. That is stronger than the 2.1% growth of last year, but less than the 5.2% increase in 2017. The figures exclude automobiles, gasoline and restaurants.