The data were coming in all weekend; retail sales on Black Friday broke records this year. Figures released by a varied group of sources, including IBM, the National Retail Federation (NRF), comScore, Channel Advisor and ShopperTrak all reported significant increases in Black Friday consumer spending.
Lured by “doorbuster” deals and earlier opening hours, Black Friday turned out to be the best on record notwithstanding the weak economy. There was also a significant amount of online buying that happened over the long holiday weekend.
Today is round two: Cyber Monday.
Cyber Monday got its unfortunate name several years ago for the day when US consumers returned to work and their high-speed internet access. However that was then; ever larger numbers of people have a fast connection at home, which accounts for the significant online spending over the weekend.
Online consumers were most active on Black Friday between 6am and 2pm according to IBM. And while people shopped online en masse over the weekend, aggressive discounts and free shipping are still expected drive online sales today over the $1 billion mark.
According to NRF estimates, reported in the Wall Street Journal, “consumers spent an average of $398.62 on Black Friday weekend, up 9.1% from last year. Of that, $150.53, or 38%, came from online sales.” ShopperTrak, which monitors in-store visits, said that retail sales rose by almost 7 over last year to about $11.4 billion on Friday.
According to comScore online spending on Friday grew by 26 percent vs. 2010 to over $800 million. (IBM said online sales grew 24.3 percent.) The combined take on Thanksgiving and Black Friday was roughly $1.3 billion. Now the discussion shifts to whether the spending will be sustained throughout the holiday season. Nobody knows yet but retailers are optimistic.
There were several articles that appeared over the weekend, like Friday’s Deals May Not Be the Best in the New York Times, arguing there are better deals to be had in the weeks ahead. If many consumers saw and heeded that advice they’ll likely come out and start to spend in the next few weeks.
Another compelling batch of data released over the weekend concerns the contribution of non-PC devices (smartphones and tablets) to Black Friday sales. IBM reported a marked increase in mobile shopping:
- Mobile traffic increased to 14.3 percent . . . compared to 5.6 percent in 2010
- Sales on mobile devices surged to 9.8 percent from 3.2 percent year over year
- Mobile shopping was led by Apple, with the iPhone and iPad ranking one and two for consumers shopping on mobile devices . . . Android came in third at 4.1 percent.
- Shoppers using the iPad led to more retail purchases more often per visit than other mobile devices with conversion rates reaching 4.6 percent compared to 2.8 percent for overall mobile devices
So just as US consumers are increasingly agnostic about shopping online and in stores, they also increasingly access the internet and shop on mobile devices as part of their non-linear purchase process.