U.S. Markets close in 1 hr 12 mins

The Latest: Malls report steady traffic on Black Friday

NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on holiday shoppers on Black Friday (all times local):

3:40 p.m.

Attention has shifted from discounters like Walmart and Target on Thanksgiving Day to malls on Black Friday, where traffic has been on the decline amid the increasing popularity of online shopping. Many mall executives nonetheless say they are pleased with Friday’s turnout.

Stephen Lebovitz, CEO of CBL Properties, which owns and manages more than 100 malls nationwide, says the crowds have been building all day and are similar to a year ago. He also believes that a shortened season — with six fewer shopping days than last year — won't impact sales.

Steve Yalof, CEO of Simon Property Group's Premium Outlets says customer traffic at the outlets on the East Coast was up on Black Friday compared with a year ago. Many of the outlet stores in Woodbury, New York are discounting designer merchandise by 50%, on top of discounts of 35% to 65%.

With a shorter season, shoppers came out for sales earlier in the week, Yalof noted.

___

12:20 p.m.

Adobe Analytics says that online spending hit new records on Thanksgiving Day, reaching $4.2 billion. That’s a 14.5% increase from a year ago.

Adobe also says that Black Friday is on track to hit $7.4 billion as of 9 a.m. Friday; $600 million has already been spent online on Friday, representing a 19.2% increase from the year-ago period.

But as online sales surge, some retailers are grappling with outages, according to technology company Catchpoint, which monitors retailers’ online performance. Costco.com experienced "intermittent slow load and transaction times" starting late evening on Wednesday, according to Catchpoint. The site was unavailable for a brief time early on Thanksgiving.

Costco is currently flagging "longer than normal response time” on its website. H&M was down for under 5 minutes on Thanksgiving, according to Catchpoint. The site went down again Friday morning, though it's back up. And HomeDepot.com experienced intermittent “slow load times" on Thanksgiving, according to Catchpoint.

___

10:36 a.m.

Analyst Rod Sides of Deloitte LLP says Black Friday shopping is off to “a really good start.”

Based on reports from his team who were in stores and malls over the past 24 hours, discounters like Target and Wal-Mart drew big crowds for door busters on Thursday. The attention is now shifting to mall stores Friday. He said based on checks at Macy’s, Dillard’s and Belks, accessories like shoes and handbags drew the most attention.

Sides acknowledged there are no new must haves and many of the big items like Instant Pot, a leader in the slow cooker category, were highlighted in past Black Friday circulars. But he says a good shopping season doesn’t depend on new items.

“Black Friday isn’t as important as it was in the past, but it is still the biggest shopping day,” Sides said. “It is the most critical barometer of spending.”

____

12:37 a.m.

Black Friday once again kicks off the start of the holiday shopping season. But with six fewer days, it will be the shortest season since 2013 because Thanksgiving fell on the fourth Thursday in November — the latest possible date.

That means customers will have less time to shop and retailers will have less time to woo them.

The National Retail Federation baked the shorter season into its forecast, but it says the real drivers will be the job market. It forecasts that holiday sales will rise between 3.8% and 4.2%, an increase from the disappointing 2.1% growth seen in the November and December 2018 period.

Black Friday is expected to once again be the largest shopping day of the season, followed by the last Saturday before Christmas.