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Retailers officially launch holiday shopping season the day after Halloween

Retailers officially launch holiday shopping season the day after Halloween
Shoppers fill a Macy's department store in New York on Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving — last year. (Stephanie Keith / Getty Images)

This year’s holiday shopping season was off and running Thursday, right after Halloween ended.

Target Corp. and Kohl’s Corp. were among the retailers running “Black Friday” preview sales on selected items in stores and online, an early promotional tease to the traditional heavy shopping that occurs the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday is Nov. 23 this year.

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Research from Adobe Analytics released Thursday projects that online shopping will reach a record $124.1 billion this holiday season, a 14.8% surge from last year, as American consumers increasingly make their purchases on the internet rather than in person.

That shift, which has been occurring for several years now, is one reason many longtime brick-and-mortar retailers have closed stores or filed for bankruptcy, including most recently Sears Holdings Corp.

Still, having a physical store remains an advantage for retailers because 47% of consumers visit stores to see and touch products they want to later buy online, Adobe said.

Three of the busiest online shopping days this season — Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and “Cyber Monday,” or the Monday after Thanksgiving — will show sales gains of 16.5% to 17.6%, Adobe estimated.

Retail sales overall this holiday season are expected to climb between 4.3% and 4.8% compared with last year’s holiday season, to a range of $717.5 billion to $720.9 billion, the National Retail Federation said last month. The figures exclude autos, gasoline and restaurants.

The expected gain tops the average annual increase of 3.9% over the previous five years, the trade group said.

“Thanks to a healthy economy and strong consumer confidence, we believe that this holiday season will continue to reflect the growth we’ve seen over the past year,” NRF President Matthew Shay said in a statement.

That strong demand has led to a jump in seasonal hiring among retailers, logistics firms and others this year, according to the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

Companies led by Target, Kohls, Amazon.com Inc. and Macy’s Inc. had announced hiring a combined total of 704,000 seasonal workers for the holidays as of mid-October, surpassing the previous high of 696,000 in 2014, Challenger Gray said.

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