U.S. shoppers had splurged more than $1.52 billion online by Thanksgiving evening, and more bargain hunters turned up at stores this year after two weak holiday seasons as retailers opened their doors early on the eve of Black Friday.
At the start of the holiday season consumer spending rose 16.8 percent year-over-year until 5 p.m. ET (2200 GMT) on Thursday, according to Adobe Analytics, which tracked 80 percent of online transactions at the top 100 U.S. retailers.
Surging online sales and a shift away from store shopping have thinned the crowds typically seen at stores on Thanksgiving evening and the day after, Black Friday, for the past two years.
But a strong labor market, rising home prices and stock markets at record highs have improved shopper appetite this year.
Crowds at stores in many locations around the country were reported to be strong, according to analysts and retail consultants monitoring shopper traffic across the U.S.
"The turnout is clearly better than the last couple of years," said Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners. "The parking lots are full and the outlet malls are busy."
The retail consultancy has 20 members studying customer traffic in different parts of the country.
Moody's retail analyst Charlie O' Shea, who was in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, reported healthy traffic at local stores including consumer electronics chain Best Buy, clothing store Old Navy and retailer Kohl's Corp.
"The weather is cooperating and people here are out," he said.