Black Friday Sales Already Soaring

People wait in line for a Best Buy store to open for a Black Friday sale on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017, in Overland Park, Kan. Shoppers are hitting the stores on Thanksgiving as retailers under pressure look for ways to poach shoppers from their rivals. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

In a good sign for retail business, Black Friday sales have already topped $1.52 billion overnight starting with Thanksgiving afternoon, when a lot of stores were open already for the big day.

Reuters reports that sales were up 16.8 percent year-over-year at 5 p.m. ET on Thursday, and it’s not just the quick rush or even merely online sales.

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.”

Friday morning has already shown packed parking lots and the crowds are full, not frenzied. That could be a good sign for both business and consumers.

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.

It reads like people are anxious to save, but not desperate, and have an appetite to buy, but not a frenzy. If that trend continues through Cyber Monday it could be a very successful retail season for both the stores and the gift givers, and that means yet another net positive for an economy that has been on the mend.