Target, Best Buy and Lululemon were Thanksgiving weekend retail winners, analysts say

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Target Corp., Best Buy Co. Inc. and Lululemon Athletica Inc. are among the winners from the record-breaking holiday shopping weekend, analysts say.

About 160 million people went to stores over Thanksgiving weekend, spending an average of $504, up 50% from last year, according to data from the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Online shoppers spent $4.2 billion on Thanksgiving, the first time the final tally exceeded $4 billion. Black Friday reached a record $7.4 billion in online sales, and broke the average order value record, hitting $168. And Small Business Saturday drove big business, reaching a new record $3.6 billion in online sales.

For the month of November, online sales totaled $68.2 billion, with 11 days surpassing $2 billion in online sales.

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The retailers scoring big during the holiday season are those with strong multiplatform capabilities, which makes shopping convenient. Since Nov. 1, buy-online-pickup-in-store has grown 43.2% year-over-year. And more than a third of online sales (36.1%) has been done on smartphones, according to Adobe Analytics ADBE, -2.29%  .

“Online shopping received some unexpected boosts this holiday season,” said Taylor Schreiner, head of Adobe Digital Insights, in a statement. “Consumers are reimagining what it means to shop during the holidays, with smartphones having a breakout season as well. We expect that consumers will spend $14 billion more this holiday season via their phones.”

Nearly a third (30%) of 1,000 respondents to a Blue Fountain Media survey said they would do all of their shopping online, though just 12% plan to use voice assistants like Inc. AMZN, -1.52%   Alexa, and even fewer, 10%, plan to use virtual shopping tools, like a try-on feature.

Blue Fountain Media is a digital marketing agency owned by Pactera Company.

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Raymond James was “impressed” by the traffic at Target TGT, -0.47%   and Best Buy BBY, -1.75%   stores, where gaming merchandise and televisions were hot items.

Despite the online outage at Costco Wholesale Corp. COST, -1.56%   on Thursday, the warehouse retailer bounced back, with analysts saying they “do not believe it materially impacted Costco’s performance over the holiday” since only 4% to 5% of the company’s sales are online.

And Walmart Inc.’s WMT, -0.83%   pickup capabilities as well as its delivery options, which includes in-home delivery in three cities, “position it well to take share over the holiday season,” Raymond James wrote.

Cowen analysts say Lululemon Athletica Inc. LULU, -0.53%  , Vans, the VF Corp. VFC, -0.44%   brand and off-price retailers like TJX Cos. TJX, -1.06%   and Burlington Stores Inc. BURL, +1.36%  , had a good showing in stores.

“As noted, Vans and Lululemon used little in-store or online promotions to drive robust traffic,” analysts said.

“While many Black Friday promos have been planned for months, the intensity of promotions across the space feels heightened relative to last year and prior years, which speaks to margin issues across the softlines space, particularly in apparel,” Cowen said.

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Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts also noticed increased promotions heading into Thanksgiving, particularly at department stores. Specialty retailers, on the other hand, were equally promotional to last year.

Bank of America now expects holiday comp growth of 2.6%, down from previous forecast for 2.7% growth and down from last year’s 3.8% growth.

“Although a strong lower-income consumer has supported consumer sentiment and inventories are better managed after Q3, a shorter holiday period and trade uncertainties will continue to be headwinds in Q4 versus last year’s strong results,” analysts led by Lorraine Hutchinson wrote.

Burlington Stores is Bank of America’s holiday pick.

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Cyber Monday online sales totaled $473 million as of 9am ET, according to Adobe Analytics, en route to $9.4 billion, up 18.9% from last year and holding on to the top online shopping day of the year in the U.S.

Adobe Analytics says shoppers will spend $11 million per minute during the peak hour between 11pm ET and midnight.

The SPDR S&P Retail ETF XRT, -1.03%    is up 8.2% for the year to date. The Amplify Online Retail ETF IBUY, -2.09%    has gained nearly 21%. And the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.80%   and Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.80%   are up 24.5% and 19.5% respectively for the period.