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Black Friday Mobile Sales & Thanksgiving Day Shopping Both Up: Google, IBM

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The week prior to Thanksgiving, we reported on Black Friday forecasts predicting what people would be shopping for and which devices they’d be using on one of the biggest U.S. holiday retail days of the year. Over the weekend, we gathered data to see just how accurate some of those predictions were and what actually transpired over Black Friday 2013.

Not surprisingly, mobile sales were up this year at a rate of 43 percent and social media activity drove conversions. Thanksgiving Day saw more online sales than last year, according to IBM’s Digital Analytics Benchmark report for Black Friday 2013.  

Let's explore this and other notable data from Google in the aftermath of this year's Black Friday shopping event. 

Tablets Drove 2x the Conversions of Smartphones 

In our holiday forecast report mid-November, one prediction that was consistent across all those who weighed in on what Black Friday online shopping could look like this this year was mobile’s role in it all. 

IBM’s newly released Black Friday data supported those theories that said mobile shopping would grow this year.

“Mobile traffic grew to 39.7 percent of all online traffic, increasing by 34 percent over Black Friday 2012. Mobile sales were also strong, reaching 21.8 percent of total online sales, an increase of nearly 43 percent year­-over-­year,” IBM said in its report.

While some data suggests more people are purchasing from their smartphones as time goes on, IBM’s data from Black Friday 2013 showed tablets ruled when it came to making purchases on mobile devices this past Black Friday:

mobile-device-purchases-black-friday-ibm

Department stores in particular experienced an increase in sales coming from mobile, up approximately 46 percent from Black Friday 2012, according to IBM data: 

online-department-store-purchases-black-friday-ibm

However, bounce rate was up, too, by about 12 percent. This isn't terribly surprising, as we recently reported that major online retailers weren’t up to par when it came to their mobile experience

Thanksgiving Day Shopping Up Nearly 20 Percent

In our holiday forecast report mid-November, we shared Adobe’s prediction that Thanksgiving Day would grow to become a bigger shopping day than years past by 21 percent. According to IBM, Thanksgiving Day did, in fact, show online sales up from last year by 19.7 percent.  

thanksgiving-day-shopping-online-ibm

We also shared in the same report that Yahoo showed most Black Friday searches in November were coming from specific cities like Omaha, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Columbus and Buffalo.

When Google shared its data with us this past weekend, it showed the cities with the most searches for Black Friday deals were: 

  • St. Louis
  • Oklahoma City
  • Chicago
  • Atlanta
  • Houston

IBM took Black Friday location data a step further, to show at least one of the cities that Yahoo was tracking – Los Angeles – made the Top 10 cities driving Black Friday sales this year:

top-black-friday-cities-online-ibm

Cities all over the U.S. shopped all day long on Black Friday. Google shared Google Shopping records that showed searches on Black Friday peaked between 8 a.m. and noon, then again between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

IBM's data revealed online sales peaked around 9 a.m.:

black-friday-sales-time-of-day-ibm

Spending Rises on Home Goods, Apparel and Beauty in 2013

Both Experian Marketing Services and Google previously shared data on trending product searches ahead of Black Friday, which we reported on earlier this month. Records show that some of those same tech gadgets, apparel and toys that were trending back then were among the top products on Black Friday, including Xbox One and Ugg boots, to name a couple.

Google Shopping's top 10 gifts from this past weekend included:

  1. Video game consoles, such as the Sony PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
  2. Tablets, such as Nexus 7, iPad mini, and the Nabi kids tablet
  3. Minecraft Legos
  4. UGG boots
  5. Smart TVs and media players like Chromecast
  6. Fast & Furious 6
  7. Beats by Dr. Dre headphones
  8. The North Face
  9. Rainbow Loom
  10. Fitbit 

While IBM’s report didn’t share specifics about brand names, it did show which categories of products were hot this year on Black Friday, and spend was up across the board:

  • Health and Beauty: Total online sales grew by 28 percent over 2012
  • Home Goods: Total online sales grew by 16.8 percent over 2012
  • Apparel: Total online sales grew by 50.4 percent over 2012

black-friday-online-apparel-sales-ibm

Black Friday's Notable Social Traffic and Conversions 

IBM reported social traffic and conversions from Pinterest and Facebook impacted Black Friday's success this year. Of note is the fact that Pinterest drove more dollars per sale, but Facebook drove more sales overall.

From IBM's report:

"On average, holiday shoppers referred from Pinterest on Black Friday spent 77 percent more per order than shoppers referred from Facebook. Facebook average order value was $52.30 versus Pinterest average order value which was $92.51. However, Facebook referrals converted sales at nearly four times the rate of Pinterest."

As more data trickles in this week tallying Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales and online shopping behavior, marketers and site owners will be able to assess their predictions and start making tweaks for the rest of the online holiday shopping season.


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