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Online shopping way up on Thanksgiving

Online traffic on the holiday increased 71 percent this year compared to the same day a year ago

Black Friday was a big day in stores, but Thanksgiving was apparently a big shopping day online.

Data from online consumer analytics firm Experian Hitwise shows online traffic on the holiday increased 71 percent this year compared to the same day a year ago. It says the top 500 retail sites received more than 181 million total U.S. visits.

Experians Matt Tatham wrote in a blog post that online traffic to the top retail sites has been up 8 percent on average for the holiday week.

The most visited retail sites on Thanksgiving Day were Amazon, Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy and Sears. On Black Friday, they were Amazon, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target and J.C. Penney Co. According to Experian Hitwise, on Black Friday this year the website that saw the biggest increase in traffic was the Apple Store at 99 percent growth.

Online Thanksgiving shopping eclipsed Black Friday online shopping, although thats not surprising considering the day after Turkey Day is when brick-and-mortar stores try to lure consumers with doorbuster deals that get them shopping in person.

Even so, the proliferation of online shopping prior to Black Friday and Cyber Monday indicates there are plenty of good deals to be had outside of what are traditionally big holiday shopping days.

In fact, some experts advise skipping Black Friday altogether because you can get better deals at other times. Decide.com a website that tracks prices on electronics and advises consumers when to buy them says data from the last two years indicates Black Friday isnt the best time for holiday shopping.

Nine of the 11 major consumer product categories averaged a lower price leading up to Black Friday, the week after Black Friday or the week before the Christmas holiday, the website said in a statement.

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