Online spending on Black Friday, the first day of shopping after Thanksgiving Day in the United States, hit a record high of $1.2bn after customers planned to avoid long lines and in-store punch ups which the day has become synonymous with.

According to ComScore data, online spending during one of the busiest periods for retailers ahead of Christmas across the globe rose by 15%, while total e-commerce sales reached $20.6 billion in the first of the 29 days of this holiday season.

The latest data also shows that this is a 3.1% rise from Black Friday in 2012 while Thanksgiving Day online purchases climbed 21% to $766m.

"While Black Friday and now Thanksgiving Day is the traditional kick off to the brick-and-mortar holiday shopping season, both days continue to grow in importance on the online channel," said ComScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni said in a statement.

"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 66 million Americans do that this year."

Increase in Online Spending

Last week, e-commerce company Venda said increased online spending in the weeks beginning on Black Friday and running up to Christmas will rise to 28%, after a 20% rise in money spent online for so-called Cyber weekend.

Eric Abensur, group CEO of Venda, explained why the explosion in online spending, particularly shopping on tablet devices, has become so important to profit margins of retailers during December.

"The growth in smartphone and tablet ownership in recent years has transformed how consumers are able to shop. Some commentators continue to believe that when it comes to making a purchase, shoppers prefer the reliability of a traditional computer," he said.

Venda added that Cyber Weekend may soon be dubbed "Tablet Weekend", since spending on tablet devices has already doubled year-on-year in the run-up to Christmas.