RESTON: Black Friday was the first billion dollar online sales day of the US holiday season and was 15% up on last year, new figures have shown.

Digital measurement company comScore reported that desktop online sales on Friday November 29 reached $1.198bn. The previous day, Thanksgiving Day, saw even stronger growth, rising 21% to $766m.

For the holiday season to date, counting from the start of November, online spending was up 3% to $20.6bn, although comScore observed that as Thanksgiving had fallen late this year that growth figure was an understatement of the real trend.

"Clearly many consumers prefer to avoid the crowds and lines typically associated with Black Friday by shopping from the comfort of their own homes, and we saw a record 66m Americans do that this year, " said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni.

He also noted that the trend of starting holiday shopping earlier by opening stores on Thanksgiving Day was having a spillover effect on the online channel.

Thanksgiving was, he said the fastest-growing online shopping day over the past five years, "as more Americans opt for couch commerce following their Thanksgiving Day festivities".

In terms of dollar sales, the apparel and accessories category has led the way, accounting for 28% of online holiday spending to date.

Then followed computer hardware ranks on 19% of sales, with a wide gap to consumer electronics (7%), consumer packaged goods (5%) and shipping services (5%).

The top two categories were also well above baseline sales for the rest of the year (January to October), almost double in the case of apparel and accessories.

Not only were dollar sales increasing but more Americans were going online to shop on Black Friday. A total of 66.1m did so using a desktop computer, representing an increase of 16% on 2012.

Amazon was once again the most visited online retail site on Black Friday, according to comScore, followed by eBay, Walmart, Best Buy and Target.

Separate data from ShopperTrak indicated that sales and foot traffic to bricks and mortar stores had risen between 2% and 3% over the two days. But it added that stripping out the Thanksgiving data showed Black Friday sales down 13.2% and traffic down 11.4%.

"Retailers are trying to get at the wallet ahead of their competition, so they're pushing open earlier and earlier," Bill Martin, founder of ShopperTrak, told the LA Times.

"But it was really at the expense of the Black Friday weekend," he added. "It didn't generate any more sales by opening up Thursday — it just spread it out over a longer period of time."

Data sourced from comScore, LA Times; additional content by Warc staff