Holiday cyber shopping rises while stores get more shoppers but smaller sales

December 2, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT

JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: Cash registers are ringing and many merchants are sing online and in the mall, but how’s the economy really doing this holiday season?

Jeffrey Brown explores that question.

JEFFREY BROWN: One hundred and thirty-one million Americans, more than a third of the country, are expected to shop online before this day is out. That’s according to the National Retail Federation.

And Brad Wilson at the coupon site says a lot is riding on that prediction.

Related Video

BRAD WILSON, This day is the single largest e-commerce day all year round. It’s so important for the retailers to be competitive.

JEFFREY BROWN: In fact, holiday cyber-shopping is already well under way. The analytic firm comScore says online sales for Thanksgiving weekend were up 17 percent from last year, helped by greater use of mobile devices.

At the same time, the Retail Federation estimates that total spending over the weekend, including brick-and-mortar stores, was actually down nearly 3 percent from last year. A record 141 million people went shopping, but the average shopper spent nearly 4 percent less than a year ago, partly due to deep discounts.

Some big retailers, Wal-Mart and Macy’s, for example, say they’re not expecting any growth this holiday season, with six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas.