Holiday shopping is expected to pick up as the season continues.

Although fewer consumers turned out to shop on Black Friday this year, retailers are still optimistic that overall holiday sales numbers will be strong.

This year, businesses began publicizing Black Friday sales much earlier than usual and extended them past Thanksgiving weekend. This has led retail experts to guess that customers are not turning out en masse for Black Friday anymore simply because they know that competitive sales will be available to them in all the days leading up to New Year’s.

Especially with the growth of online shopping, consumers are more accustomed than ever to hunting down the best deal possible for a product they’re interested in. For instance, customers are known to compare prices from multiple stores in only a few minutes, using their mobile devices and computers. Online sales paired with free shipping are giving shoppers more incentive to stay home and do their buying at their own pace.

“A strengthening economy that changes consumers’ reliance on deep discounts, a highly competitive environment, early promotions and the ability to shop 24/7 online all contributed to the shift witnessed this weekend,” said National Retail Federation (NRF) President and CEO Matthew Shay. “We are excited to be witnessing an evolutionary change in holiday shopping by both consumers and retailers, and expect this trend to continue in the years ahead.”

Businesses will continue to compete for sales, but lower gas prices and a growing job market are likely to keep the holiday retail season g oing strong, although the way consumers are choosing to shop is changing.

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