US online sales surge as shoppers splurge on eve of Black Friday

The National Retail Federation is projecting that sales for November and December will rise 3.6 percent to 4 percent this year, versus a 4 percent increase last year. (Reuters)
Updated 24 November 2017
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US online sales surge as shoppers splurge on eve of Black Friday

NEW JERSEY: US shoppers had splurged more than $1.52 billion (SR5.7 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 5pm ET on Thursday, according to Adobe Analytics, which tracked 80 percent of online transactions at the top 100 US 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 US
“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.
The National Retail Federation is projecting that sales for November and December will rise 3.6 percent to 4 percent this year, versus a 4 percent increase last year. Non-store sales, which include online sales and those from kiosks, are expected to rise 11 percent-15 percent to about $140 billion.
In New Jersey, around 50 people lined up a Macy’s at the Westfield Garden State Plaza mall before it opened and around 200 people stood outside the Best Buy store, many to pick up their online orders.
“Me and my husband have a bigger place and we need a bigger TV for the living room,” said Jenipher Gomes, who bought a 50-inch Samsung TV at Best Buy for $399.99. Shopper Hammad Farooq said he waited at the store for an hour to shop for laptops and monitors.
In Chicago, shoppers appeared to be slightly less enthusiastic to emerge from their turkey slumber and crowds were thin along the city’s popular shopping destination, State Street.
“There’s a few more people than normal but I wouldn’t call this crowded at all,” Deloitte auditor Eugenia Liew said as she shopped at discount retailer Target. “I expected a lot more people.”
The holiday season spanning November and December is crucial for retailers because it can account for as much as 40 percent of annual sales. Retailers try to attract shoppers with deep discounts.
Average discounts ranged between 10 and 16 percent with the best deals online on Thanksgiving evening available for computers, sporting goods, apparel and video games, according to date from Adobe.
The number of customers shopping on their smartphones surged, accounting for 46 percent of the traffic on retail websites, while traffic from desktop and laptop computers declined 11 percent and nearly 6 percent respectively, according to the data.


Assad forces target fighters near Golan Heights

Nearly half of Syria's pre-war population of 23 million have been uprooted from their homes. AP
Updated 19 min 17 sec ago
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Assad forces target fighters near Golan Heights

  • Regime forces fired more than 800 missiles at an area between northern Daraa and the Quneitra countryside
  • In Daraa, the evacuation deal will hand over areas held by the fighters for years back to regime control

BEIRUT: Syrian regime forces unleashed hundreds of missiles on an opposition-held area near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Sunday, activists said, the latest phase in an offensive to clear southern Syria of insurgents.
The regime’s push came after it had secured control of most of Daraa province in an offensive that began in June. On Sunday, the first batch of armed fighters and their families left the city of Daraa, the provincial capital, in buses that would take them to the opposition-held Idlib province in the north.
Similar deals in other parts of Syria resulted in the evacuation of thousands of opposition fighters and civilians — evacuations that the UN and rights groups have decried as forced displacement.
Syrian President Bashar Assad said Sunday the success in driving the opposition out of Daraa embodies the will of his army and allied forces to “liberate all of Syrian territories” of “terrorism.”
In recent months and backed by Russian air force, the Syrian regime has restored control of over 60 percent of previously opposition-held territory across the country.
Assad spoke during a meeting on Sunday with visiting Iranian Foreign Ministry official Hossein Jaberi Ansari. Assad’s office said the two agreed that the “elimination of terrorism in most of the Syrian territory has laid the most appropriate ground to reach results at the political level” that could put an end to Syria’s war.
Syria’s regime refers to all armed opposition groups as “terrorists” and accuses the West, Turkey, Israel and regional countries of supporting them.
The statement came a day before President Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin are to meet in Finland. Syria is expected to feature highly on the agenda. Russia is a major Assad ally.
In Daraa, the evacuation deal will hand over areas held by the fighters for years back to regime control. Daraa, which lies on a highway linking Damascus with Jordan, was the cradle of the 2011 uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Since early Sunday, regime forces turned their missiles toward a stretch of land controlled by the armed opposition in northern Daraa and the countryside of adjacent Quneitra.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said regime forces fired more than 800 missiles at an area between northern Daraa and the Quneitra countryside, about 4 kilometers, or 2.5 miles, from the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
The Observatory said government forces advanced on Massharah, a village in Quneitra, and rebels fought back in intense clashes that killed several pro-government fighters. The pro-Syrian regime Central Military Media said a number of insurgents were killed in the clashes.
The Observatory reported airstrikes in Massharah, the first in over a year to hit the Quneitra countryside. It also reported airstrikes in a nearby village in northern Daraa, where regime forces have been trying to retake a key hill there after failing to reach a deal with the fighters. Capturing the hill would enable them to advance on militants in the area linked to Daesh.
Daraa activist Abou Mahmoud Hourani said an estimated 400 members of the armed opposition and their families will be evacuated out of Daraa.
Pro-regime TV Al-Ikhbariya said 10 buses carrying 407 people left for northern Syria.
The station said the evacuation of nearly 1,000 people was likely to be completed by Sunday.