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The S&P 500 retailing index and Amazon hit all time highs as Americans took to the stores and hit websites to snap up Black Friday bargains.

The S&P 500 retailing index climbed 0.7 per cent to an all time high of 1,655.39, while ecommerce juggernaut Amazon’s shares rallied as much as 2 per cent to $1,178.72. Meanwhile, department store Macy’s led the S&P 500, advancing as much as 4.3 per cent to $21.57, as chief executive Jeff Genette told CNBC that he sees stronger Black Friday this year than the last and with fewer promotions as the Northeast experiences cold weather.

The fourth quarter is the most critical for retailers as consumers boost spending around the holidays. The buzz surrounding Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that traditionally marks the start of holiday shopping, also help send Kohl’s shares higher by about 2 per cent to $45.47 and JCPenney shares higher by 1.5 per cent to $3.28. Gap was also among the biggest gainers on the S&P 500 rising more than 2 per cent to $29.86, Abercrombie & Fitch shares rose 2.1 per cent to $16.97 and American Eagle Outfitters share climbed 2 per cent to $14.92.

The rally came amid data that Black Friday was off to a strong start with $640m in online spending as of 10am ET on Friday, up 18.4 per cent from a year ago, according to Adobe Digital Insights. That followed $2.87bn in online spending Thanksgiving day, up roughly 18 per cent from a year ago.

Indeed, the National Retail Federation estimates that 164m people, or 69 per cent of Americans plan to shop over the holiday weekend that began on Thursday and wraps up after Cyber Monday. They also project sales to rise between 3.6 to 4 per cent over the November-December holiday period compared with a year ago.

Retailers are hoping for such a bump as they continue to face declining mall traffic and increased competition from online competitors. In order to shore up their bottom lines, companies have also worked to tighten inventory and reduce promotions. However Friday’s optimism could be checked in coming weeks and months, as last year the bulk of department stores and retailers reported holiday sales that turned up shy of analysts estimates.

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