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Shoppers spent $534 million online on Black Friday - only 1% more than on Black Friday last year- according to comScore, which said $10.41 billion has been spent online for the holiday season to date (the first 28 days of the November-December season), or a 4% decline vs. the corresponding days last year, reports Retailer Daily.

For the combination of Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, online retail sales were up 2% compared with last year.

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“Early reports suggest that Black Friday sales in retail stores were slightly better than anticipated in this depressed retail climate, and that performance apparently extended to the online channel, which saw sales on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday combined increase 2% versus year ago,” said comScore chairman, Gian Fulgoni.

“It’s probable that on Black Friday consumers responded positively to the very aggressive promotions and discounts being offered in retail stores, so it will be important to see how they respond to similarly attractive deals being offered online on Cyber Monday, the traditional kick-off to the online holiday shopping season.”

Online Shoppers Sleep in on Black Friday

Evidently, one of the benefits of avoiding the Black Friday crush at retail stores and opting to shop online is not having to wake up at the crack of dawn. The early morning - between 4:00 and 8:00 AM - accounted for just 11% of the day’s total online retail sales, while the period after 8:00 AM accounted for 84% of online sales.

The 12:00- 4:00 PM segment represented the highest share of Black Friday online sales (24%), with 12:00-1:00 PM the heaviest individual hour of spending with 8% of sales.

Cyber Monday Bellwether for Holiday Season

The Monday after Thanksgiving, popularly known as “Cyber Monday,” provides the first significant spike in online spending activity for the holiday season. Cyber Monday is the first working day after the Thanksgiving holiday - and purchases from work still account for approximately half of all e-commerce spending.

Cyber Monday has historically proven an accurate bellwether for the overall growth of online holiday spending:

Holiday Online Retail Forecast

“With so much volatility right now in the variables that influence consumer spending, predicting where this online holiday season will end up has been far more challenging than in previous years,” said Fulgoni.

comScore forecasts flat growth for holiday-season online retail sales: $29.2 billion, the same as in 2007.

Source: Black Friday Online Spending Up Only 1%