Online Black Friday sales top $1 billion

Consumers spent 26% more on web than last year

NEW YORK - Online shoppers eager for discounts this holiday season did not wait for Cyber Monday.

U.S. consumers spent a record $1.042 billion online on Black Friday, a 26 percent increase over the same day last year, according to new figures from comScore, an Internet analytics firm. Shoppers also found time amid the cooking, eating and watching football to spend an additional $633 million on Thanksgiving Day, a 32 percent jump from the year before.

Black Friday is the heaviest online shopping day of the year so far. The sales total is the first time e-commerce spending on that day has topped $1 billion.

"Despite the frenzy of media coverage surrounding the importance of Black Friday in the brick-and-mortar world, we continue to see this shopping day become more and more prominent in the e-commerce channel -- particularly among those who prefer to avoid crowds at the stores," said comScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni.

While the Monday after Thanksgiving has traditionally been a heavy day for online shopping, some retailers offered Web-only deals last week in an effort to spur sales.

More than 57 million Americans visited online retail sites on Black Friday, an increase of 18 percent over a year ago, comScore said. The most-visited site was Amazon, followed by Walmart, Best Buy, Target and Apple.

In the holiday shopping season that began Nov. 1, online spending is up 16 percent over 2011, according to comScore.

What's driving the surge in online spending this holiday season? Digital content and subscriptions as more consumers download movies, TV shows, books and music to enjoy on their tablets and smartphones. Spending in that category is up 29 percent over last year.

Other big-growth product categories this season are toys, video games and consumer electronics.