It looks like online shoppers got a big head start on Cyber Monday this weekend. But overall, the holiday buying season got off to a rather tepid start, even as many retailers opened their doors on Thanksgiving Day.
"It definitely seems as if sales on Thursday pulled from Black Friday and even a little bit over the weekend," closely followed retail watcher Dana Telsey told CNBC on Monday.
But despite that cannibalization, she said she thinks more stores will be opening Thanksgiving Day next year, because of the foot-traffic it generated.
(Read more: It's 'Cyber Monday': Here's what to expect)
The National Retail Federation said that the number of Thanksgiving Day shoppers grew 27 percent, as nearly 45 million people took advantage of special "turkey day" savings offers. That's up from 35 million in 2012.
But in total, the federation estimated that retail sales fell by 2.7 percent during the full Thanksgiving weekend to $57.4 billion. The average shopper spent $407.02, off nearly 6 percent because of lower prices.
(Read more: Winners and losers of Black Friday's megadeals)
In some cases, the holiday shopping promotions started as early as Nov. 1 and many deals began early last week. "The consumer, they got washed out as they went through to the weekend," Telsey told "Squawk Box." adding that 40 percent of holiday season sales typically happen from Dec. 15 though the Dec. 25.