E-commerce sales on Black Friday, traditionally the kickoff to the holiday season for brick and mortar retailers, surpassed $1 billion for the first time in history. Fifty-seven million Americans chose to shop online on Black Friday, resulting in a 26 percent increase in e-commerce spend over the same day in 2011, according to comScore.
Total online sales of $1.042 billion made Black Friday 2012 the heaviest online spending day to date in 2012. Thanksgiving Day also saw strong gains on the e-commerce front, with a 32 percent YoY increase in online spending bringing the total for that holiday to $633 million.
Black Friday is changing from a real-world shopping phenomenon to a multi-channel marketing boon for retailers of all stripes, said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “Despite the frenzy of media coverage surrounding the importance of Black Friday in the brick-and-mortar world, we continue to see this shopping day become more and more prominent in the e-commerce channel – particularly among those who prefer to avoid crowds at the stores,” he said.
Thanksgiving Day Increasingly Important for Retailers
“Meanwhile, Thanksgiving Day – which has historically been a lighter online holiday shopping day – continues to gain steam and grew well ahead of the current pace as more consumers opted to kick off their holiday shopping immediately after the big meal to take advantage of aggressive retailer promotions,” Fulgoni said.
Looking forward, he predicts, “With Thanksgiving now behind us and most consumers returning to work tomorrow, we can look forward with anticipation to Cyber Monday, which according to norms we’ve observed over the past three years should be the heaviest online shopping day of the season with sales approaching $1.5 billion or even higher.”
IBM found that online sales for Black Friday peaked at 11:45 a.m. PT, with sales increasing 20.7 percent over 2011, as shown below:
iPad Leads Mobile Online Retail Growth
Mobile consumers were responsible for a healthy portion of the online retail growth on Thanksgiving Day, according to IBM. Purchases by mobile consumers, with sales reaching 16.3 percent, were led by consumers using the iPad, which accounted for 10 percent of all online sales. iPhone followed at 8.7 percent and Android at 5.5 percent. This marks a healthy increase over 2011, where just 9.8 percent of consumers shopped from a mobile device.
Consumers are also becoming savvier, said IBM, using multiple devices and shopping in-store simultaneously to find the best deals. While consumers spent more overall, they shopped with greater frequency to take advantage of retailer deals and free shipping. Average order value fell by 4.7 percent to $181.22 and the average number of items per order decreased 12 percent to 5.6.
Performics saw holiday shopping begin to ramp up five days before Black Friday (Sunday). Overall growth was a little slower than last year on higher CPCs (driven completely by desktop) and lower CTRs, but it was still a record day for clicks and spend.
The biggest trend Performics saw this year was in mobile CPCs, which were far below what they were last year. As a result, mobile and tablet clicks were up by 49 and 77 percent, despite actually spending 34 percent and 12 percent less. Mobile CPCs were down 55 percent and Tablet CPCs were down 52 percent. Better targeting capabilities are likely the driving reason for mobile CPCs being down, they said.
Online Shoppers Are Socially Savvy, Hungry for Deals
Shoppers referred from social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube generated 0.34 percent of all online sales on Black Friday, a decrease of more than 35 percent from 2011.
The most popular type of Facebook post from retailers were posts that included a photo and/or a link, social retail analysis from Wednesday to Friday by Performics found. Fans engaged (liked, commented, or shared) the most with retailers between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. on Thursday (Thanksgiving Day).
Twitter followers engaged the most with brands on Friday in the early morning around 5 a.m. and then again in the evening, after shoppers got their second wind, around 5 p.m. The most popular retweets mentioned free shipping and additional discounts (i.e., 40 percent off).
"This year's holiday shopper was hungry for great deals and retailers didn't disappoint, rolling out compelling offers which consumers gobbled up on Thanksgiving straight through Black Friday," said Jay Henderson, Strategy Director, IBM Smarter Commerce. "The big winners were chief marketing officers who used technology to deliver customer experiences that not only connected shoppers with personalized deals but did so at the right touchpoint and at precisely the right time and place, whether on their couch or the store floor."
Amazon Most Popular Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday Shopping Destinations
Amazon.com was the most visited e-commerce site on Thanksgiving Day, according to Experian Hitwise, followed by Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and Sears. Overall, the top 500 retail sites received more than 181 million total US visits on Thanksgiving Day.
On Black Friday, said Experian, online traffic increased 3 percent over 2011, as the top 500 retail sites received more than 179 million total US visits. Online retail traffic was actually down 1 percent on Black Friday, compared to Thanksgiving Day 2012 traffic this year.
Amazon.com remained the top visited retail site on Black Friday, with Walmart in second place. Best Buy moved up to the third most visited site with Target right behind. JCPenney moved up from the eightth most visited retail site on Thanksgiving Day to the fifth most visited on Black Friday. Among the top five sites, JCPenney saw the biggest day-over-day growth at 26 percent. Looking at the top 20 retail sites on Black Friday, the Apple Store saw the biggest day-over-day growth at 99 percent, according to Experian.
Digital Content & Subscriptions Fastest Growing Online Retail Product Category
Digital Content & Subscriptions is leading the way as the top-growing online retail product category (up 29 percent versus year ago) as the rapid adoption of smartphones, tablets and e-readers continues to drive demand for digital books, audio and video content, said comScore.
Toys are also performing well online thus far with a gain of 27 percent, followed by Consumer Packaged Goods (up 23 percent), Video Game Consoles & Accessories (up 18 percent) and Consumer Electronics (up 18 percent).
Prior to Black Friday, $10.1 billion had been spent online in the first 18 days of the 2012 holiday shopping season, marking a 16 percent increase over the same period last year. Cyber Monday 2011 was the heaviest U.S. online spending day in history at the time, with the holiday season as a whole up 15 percent YoY to $15 billion at that time last year. 2012 promises to exceed even those numbers.
comScore expects total November-December holiday online retail spend to reach $43.4 billion this year, up 17 percent from 2011.
“This would put an exclamation point on what has already been a strong year for retail e-commerce,” Fulgoni said.