Wal-Mart Stores Inc. WMT 0.22% and Amazon.com Inc. battled to capture spending over the holiday weekend, as the shifts that have upended the retail industry this year were on display: fewer people visited traditional stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday while online purchases continued to surge.

On Thanksgiving evening, Alex and Yanira Garcia, who say they traditionally buy nearly everything on Amazon, chose to stand in line at a busy Wal-Mart store in Westbury, N.Y., to purchase pajamas, toys, a TV and other gifts that filled two shopping carts.

“I heard that lots of stores are giving you deals so you come in the store,” said Mr. Garcia, a 39-year-old cook at an elementary school.

Online, the retailer offered more electronics and bulky toys that customers want shipped to homes, then stocked stores with additional lower-priced deals like $5 DVDs, pajamas and other items customers prefer buying immediately or are unprofitable to ship, Mr. Foran said.

In stores, “is [Black Friday] the mayhem that it might have been eight or 10 years ago?” Mr. Foran said on Thanksgiving.

While most big chains still opened on Thanksgiving evening, some retailers adjusted their hours after discovering that the extra hours didn’t necessarily lift overall holiday sales.

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