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Black Friday sales are surging -- and it reveals an ominous reality about the retail industry

Getty/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez
  • Shoppers have already spent more than $US1.52 billion over the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • Sales are soaring in part because discounts have never been steeper.
  • Nearly half of the US apparel market was discounted on Thanksgiving, with an average promotion of 47% off the full price

Black Friday sales are soaring with shoppers already spending more than $US1.52 billion online on Thanksgiving evening – a 17% increase over last year, according to Adobe Analytics.

“Thanksgiving is shaping up to be a record-breaking shopping day,” said Mickey Mericle, vice president, Marketing and Customer Insights for Adobe.

The strong sales are a positive sign for the struggling retail industry. But a closer look reveals a far more ominous reality: retailers had to drop prices lower than ever to get shoppers to spend money.

Discounts are hitting record highs this year, according to Edited, a retail technology company.

Nearly half of the US apparel market was discounted on Thanksgiving, with an average promotion of 47% off the full price.

Accessories are the most discounted category, accounting for more than 35% of reductions, followed by tops (21.7%) and footwear (13.3%).

Luxury handbags are also steeply discounted, with an average discount of 40%-50% off, up from 30%-40% last year. Items like puffer coats and quilted jackets have an “astronomic” discount of 60%-70% off the full price, Edited said.

Discounts on technology are slightly lower, but still strong.

Average promotions include 24% off televisions and tablets and 18% off appliances, according to Adobe Analytics.

Cyber Monday will have the highest discounts off of toys, at about 19% off regular prices, Adobe said.

Overall, shoppers are expected to spend $US107.4 billion online this holiday season, representing an increase of nearly 14% over last year, according to Adobe. Cyber Monday will be the largest online shopping day in history, with $US6.6 billion in sales.

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