Americans spent nearly $7.5 billion in online sales from Black Friday through Cyber Monday. For the first time, Black Friday topped Cyber Monday as the busiest day for online with 93.2 million shoppers compared with 83.3 million, National Retail Federation (NRF) reports. Saturday followed at 58.2 million, Thanksgiving Day at 49.7 million and Sunday (Dec. 1) at 43.1 million. Sunday yielded $3.83 billion in online sales, followed closely by Small Business Saturday (Nov. 30) with $3.6 billion, according to AdWeek.

NRF says Black Friday was the busiest day for in-store activity, with 84.2 million shoppers, followed by Small Business Saturday (59.9 million), Thanksgiving Day (37.8 million), Sunday (29.2 million) and Cyber Monday (21.8 million). Of those shopping on Saturday, 73% were likely to shop specifically for Small Business Saturday.

“Americans continue to start their holiday shopping earlier in the year, and Thanksgiving is still a critical weekend for millions,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a release. “With the condensed holiday season, consumers are feeling the pressure to get their shopping done in time. Even those who typically wait until the last minute to purchase gifts turned out in record numbers all weekend long.”

The Top 5 selling products on Cyber Monday, according to Adobe Analytics, were L.O.L. Surprise dolls, “Frozen 2” toys, Nintendo Switch, VR devices and Samsung TVs. Top gift purchases over the weekend included apparel (bought by 58% of those surveyed), toys (33%), electronics (31%), books/music/movies/video games (28%) and gift cards (27%), NRF says.

Free shipping was a big draw for online shoppers over the weekend, with 49% of those polled by NRF saying this influenced their purchases, up from 42% in 2018. The ability to order online and pick up at the store was cited by 20%, up from 15% last year, while limited-time sales and promotions (36%) and an easy-to-use website or app (21%) were named as other influencers.

“The growth in online retail sales is a tide that lifts everybody,” Prosper Insights & Analytics Executive VP of Strategy Phil Rist remarked. “When consumers are buying from retailers online but picking up or making returns in-store, it is more and more difficult to distinguish between the sales retailers make in their stores and the ones they make on their websites.”

NRF defines the holiday season as November 1 through December 31 and has forecast that sales will total between $727.9 and $730.7 billion. Consumers expect to spend an average $1,047.83 – including purchases made earlier – for an increase of 4% over last year, according to NRF’s annual survey released in October.

NRF’s survey of 6,746 adult consumers was conducted Wednesday (Nov. 27) through Monday (Dec. 2) and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points. – Jay Gleason