On the eve of "Cyber Monday," online retailers reported an even stronger start to the holiday shopping season than brick-and-mortar stores.
Research firm comScore reported on Sunday that e-commerce spending jumped 26 percent on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, compared with the same day a year ago. ComScore reported $816 million in online sales for the day, up from $648 million.
The 26 percent growth rate for online sales compares with a 7 percent retail sales increase reported for Black Friday by ShopperTrak, which gathers data from individual stores and shopping malls. At $11.4 billion, the brick-and-mortar sales total still dwarfs the online total.
Gian Fulgoni, comScore chairman, said in a statement that e-commerce enjoyed a banner day, despite some analysts' predictions that early store openings on Black Friday could hurt online sales.
"With brick-and-mortar retail also reporting strong gains on Black Friday, it's clear that the heavy promotional activity had a positive impact on both channels," Fulgoni said.
Thanksgiving is also a big day for online sales, and comScore reported an 18 percent increase this year compared with a year ago, with $479 million in sales.
Online sales also have been strong throughout November. Online sales through Saturday rose 15 percent compared with the same period a year ago, according to comScore, which is based on Reston, Va. Through the first 25 days of the month, online sales have totaled $12.74 billion.
ComScore said 50 million Americans visited online retail sites on Black Friday, up 35 percent from a year ago. Each of the top five retail sites reported double-digit gains in visitors, in percentage terms, led by top retail site Amazon. Walmart ranked second, followed by Best Buy, Target and Apple.
Next up is Cyber Monday, when many online retailers run promotions for the first business day of the week following Thanksgiving. Cyber Monday sales topped $1 billion last year, making it the heaviest day of online spending ever. ComScore's Fulgoni expects another record will be set this year.
Toys R Us got a jump on things by offering Cyber Monday deals beginning at 6 p.m. on Sunday. The retailer's website also offered free shipping on purchases of $49 or more, through the holiday weekend until Dec. 3.
Amazon and Walmart launched weeklong online sales promotions on Sunday. Amazon's offers included a discounted price of $259 on a Kindle DX e-reader that normally sells at $379. That offer was scheduled to end Monday. Walmart expanded its Cyber Week offerings with more than 250 online-only specials, with savings of up to 40 percent. Walmart also offered free shipping on orders of $45 or more.
ComScore reported online sales for Black Friday two days after another researcher, IBM Corp.'s Coremetrics unit, reported a smaller online spending gain for Black Friday. Coremetrics reported a 20 percent increase, compared with comScore's 26 percent.