And they’re off!

Target and Wal-Mart felt strongly enough about Black Friday that they touted their holiday performance earlier than ever in recent memory. The former scheduled a conference call for Wall Street analysts and media on Thanksgiving at 8:30 p.m. While most people had eaten and were still digesting their holiday meals, Target chairman and chief executive officer Brian Cornell, fresh off a tour of East Coast stores that started at 6 p.m. in Jersey City, N.J., said on the call, “While its still early in the evening we’ve seen a very positive responses in our stores. Our guests still enjoy shsopping on Thanksgiving evening Saw very long lines.It’s very positive from a digital standpoint. It’s one of strongest days ever with an overall lift in sales and traffic gains.”

Cornell said that more than 600 customers were waiting outside the Jersey City store. “I look at the consumer and the state of the economy,” he said, “it’s a great time to be a consumer in U.S. The GDP expanding, although I’d like to see at 6 percent; gas prices are low, food prices low and interest rates are low. It’s a great itme to be a retailer.”

Early this morning, Target rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange in celebration of Kids’ Day. The retailer said Target.com had its biggest day ever on Thanksgiving with double-digit growth. “Based on early results, it’s clear that our deals are cutting through. We expect this momentum to continue throughout the weekend and into next week.”

Target will offer 15 percent savings on nearly everything in stores and online on Sunday and Monday.

Wal-Mart said customers started visiting stores in the days leading up to Thanksgiving to grocery shop. The retailer said it sold 150 million pounds of turkey and ham and more than six pies per second throughout November.

At midnight on Thanksgiving Day, customers started shopping on Walmart.com and the Walmart app. Thanksgiving Day was once again one of the top online shopping days of the year, the retailer said. More than 70 percent of Walmart.com’s traffic was driven by mobile.

Wal-Mart at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day kicked off the company’s Black Friday event in stores across the country. The retailer said that millions of customers went home with the items they wanted, with top sellers including televisions, cookware, video games and systems, drones, toys and pajamas for men, women, kids and babies.

The retailer said the early trend on Walmart.com has been mobile buying, with 70 percent of Walmart.com traffic during Walmart’s Black Friday event driven by mobile. Customers were buying on mobile too, with 60 percent of Black Friday event orders on Walmart.com coming from mobile.

Wal-Mart released new deals for Cyber Week, which began at 12:01 a.m. today and will continue with online specials throughout the week. Among the items available now, are men’s and women’s plaid shirts starting at $8; women’s and girl’s pea coats starting at $12, Ugly Christmas apparel for the family with sweaters starting at $7, and the Yujin eX500 Robotic vacuum cleaner with camera vision, $139, a $130 savings, and Samsung’s 65″ 1080p HD Smart LED TV, $798, a $1,600 value.

“We will continue to focus on offering great prices on great products across the whole store and on Walmart.com for the rest of the holiday season,” said Steve Bratspies, chief merchandising officer.

At Target, TVs were a top seller, with 3,200 TVs sold every minute during the first hour of stores opening. Apple products were among the most popular deals, and gaming systems were a strong category. Target sold half a million video games within the first hour of stores opening. Wearables had a 50 percent sales increase, including the Fitbit Charge HR. Toys experienced strong selling. Target sold five times more wireless headphones than last year and robotic vacuums generated 10 times the sales of last year.

“For Target to win, and we do plan on winning this season, we have to make sure guests are shopping online and picking up in stores,” Cornell said on the conference call, adding that the company has already seen a big surge. “That plays a very important part and drives more traffic to stores. Once they pick up an order in a store, they generally continue to shop. I expect pick up in stores to be an important part of the holiday season.”


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