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Online shoppers outnumber in-store shoppers over Thanksgiving weekend

Consumers cite avoiding crowds, saving time and finding better or similar deals as top reasons for shopping on the Internet.

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Online shopping continues to appeal to more consumers.

CNET

More people went shopping online than in retail stores over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation.

Over 103 million people said they shopped online, the NRF said on Sunday, topping the 102 million who said they shopped in stores this past weekend. Among online shoppers, 41 million people surfed for bargains on Thanksgiving Day, while 75.3 million shopped on the Internet on Black Friday.

The data underscores the growing comfort level of online shopping as more people turn to their smartphones and other devices to browse cyberspace. Online sales have become a critical component for retailers, especially during high-volume periods like Black Friday.

More shoppers take to the Internet

Americans who shopped online this past Thanksgiving holiday week pointed to several reasons for doing so, according to a poll from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). Avoiding crowds was the top reason for 85 percent of those surveyed. Saving time was cited by 79 percent, and finding better or similar deals online compared with those in stores was listed by 78 percent. The ability to shop outside of regular store hours was a factor for 57 percent of consumers.

"The ease of online shopping through mobile devices now lets millions of people research what they want as well as make timely purchases any day of the weekend -- a win-win for both retailers and shoppers," Pam Goodfellow, principal analyst at research firm Prosper, told the NRF.

A total of 125 million Americans planned to shop throughout the entire week from the Monday before Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, according to the CTA. Among those, 85 percent shopped online via a PC or mobile device, compared with 94 percent who shopped in physical stores. Drilling down further, 74 percent used a PC, while 57 percent said they shopped using a mobile device.

Spending from desktop PCs rises

Finally, those who went shopping via a desktop PC spent more than $2 billion on Thanksgiving and Black Friday combined, research firm ComScore said Sunday. Spending on Thanksgiving Day reached $1.1 billion, a 9 percent gain over the same day in 2014. Black Friday spending rose to $1.6 billion, up 10 percent from the same day last year.

ComScore said it expects even higher sales on Monday.

"Looking ahead to Cyber Monday, we expect to see upwards of $2.5 billion in desktop spending as people return to their work computers after Thanksgiving weekend and use some of their down time to continue their holiday gift buying, but without other family members looking over their shoulders."