Retail sales grew at a double-digit pace over the Thanksgiving Day weekend, launching the holiday sales season with raised hopes for stronger demand that will trigger inventory restocking.
The National Retail Federation said sales grew 16.4 percent over last year’s Thanksgiving weekend, reaching $52.4 billion.
IBM said the momentum continued into what's now called ‘Cyber Monday,’ with sales on the first weekday following the break up 33 percent over the same day a year ago. MasterCard said actual store transactions jumped 17 percent on ‘Black Friday.’
The big gains belied indicators that showed the U.S. economy growing at only a meek rate this fall.
Transportation and logistics companies have seen relatively weak demand heading into the holiday season, with shipping on international air and ocean services that feed goods to retail distribution centers showing little if any momentum.
The strong sales to kick off the holidays are raising spirits at retailers, but analysts note the boost included hefty discounting, and that may put a cap on restocking demand in the coming weeks. Retailers have been keeping inventories lean in hopes of averting the steep selloffs in unsold goods after the holidays.
Online sales on Nov. 28 were up 29.3 percent over Black Friday sales, reinforcing many retailers shift toward Internet sales and the redrawing of supply chains as a result. About 10.8 percent of Cyber Monday shoppers used a mobile device to visit retailers, up from 3.9 percent in 2010, according to an IBM report.