Updated from Nov. 24 at 9:22 p.m. with new comments from Target.
The discounter said Friday its holiday season got off to a "strong" start, with a record-breaking day for its website on Thanksgiving. Traffic and sales beat Cyber Monday last year, according to Target.
"I continue to be very optimistic on our position for the holidays," Target Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell told TheStreet on a conference call with reporters Thursday evening. Most encouraging, said Cornell, was that people were shopping multiple departments after scooping up the typical Black Friday doorbuster deals.
Cornell cautioned, however, that it remains very early in the holiday season for Target.
But what looks to be a good start for the holidays for Target mirrors developments across the retail landscape for early Black Friday openings.
Thanksgiving Day has brought in $1.15 billion in online sales from midnight to 5:00 p.m., a 13.6% increase from a year ago, according to new data Thursday night from Adobe. It's forecasting that Thanksgiving Day will hit, or come close to, $2 billion in online revenue for the first time, which would represent a strong 15.6% from the prior year.
The results are based on aggregated and anonymous data from 21 billion visits to retail websites.
Top-selling products tend to be expensive, noted Adobe, including Samsung 4K televisions, Apple iPads, Macbooks, electric scooters and Sony's (SNE) Playstation virtual-reality goggles. The early spending binge by consumers is also being fueled on bigger discounts vs. last year on tablets, toys and appliances.
Adobe predicted Cyber Monday will generate $3.36 billion in sales, up 9.4% from a year ago.
"It was interesting this year that around Election Day, people weren't spending as much -- visits to retailer websites were down," said Becky Tasker, managing analyst at Adobe Digital Insight in a phone interview. "But after Election Day, things normalized and people came back."
Meanwhile, J.C. Penney (JCP) swung open its doors at 3 p.m. on Turkey Day for the second straight year at more than 1,000 stores nationwide while mall rivals Macy's (M) and Sears (SHLD) stuck to their traditional 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. respective Black Friday openings. And once again, J.C. Penney was rewarded for its decision to open early with lines snaking around the outside of its stores across the country. When finally inside, shoppers frantically scooped up $20 St. John's Bay puffer jackets, discounted home goods, $19.99 boots and $9 sweaters.
Concluded Cornell, "Sure, I would like to see 3% GDP growth but food prices and gas prices are down -- it's a great time to be a consumer, which means it's a great time to be a retailer."