Cyber Monday may be today, but many of the major retailers in the United States, eager to start the holiday shopping season strong, brought their sales online for Black Friday last week.

According to comScore, it worked: more than 50m Americans visited ecommerce websites on Friday, spending $816m, 26% more than they did in 2010. What’s more: thanks to Thanksgiving Day sales, retailers sold $479m worth of stuff last Thursday, 18% more than they sold the year prior.

comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni noted,

Despite some analysts’
predictions that the flurry of brick-and-mortar retailers opening their
doors early for Black Friday would pull dollars from online retail, we
still saw a banner day for e-commerce with more than $800 million in

With brick-and-mortar retail also reporting strong gains on
Black Friday, it’s clear that the heavy promotional activity had a
positive impact on both channels.

While the amount of spending last week may come as a pleasant surprise,
the apparent winners won’t. Amazon captured the most visitors of any
e-commerce website, drawing an impressive 50% more visitors than any
other online retailer.

Amazon was followed by Walmart, Best Buy, Target
and Apple. According to Fulgoni, “the top multichannel retailers also
showed strong growth in visitors, demonstrating the importance of the
online channel to the retail industry as a whole

The question now is how the rest of the holiday shopping season plays
out. As I noted last week before retailers opened their doors, virtual
and real, “the winners of this year’s holiday shopping battle will be
the retailers who execute the best strategy between now and the end of
December and not necessarily the retailers who burn all their fuel
trying to get out of the gate the fastest this week.

The marathon has
begun and we’ll see which retailers and segments of the market are able
to sustain themselves best.