Reports from the weekend are in: Black Friday, though traditionally an in-store event, continues to show strong numbers in terms of online shopping. Global analytics company comScore reported that Black Friday saw online sales up 10 percent – from $1.51 billion to $1.66 billion. Thanksgiving Day brought in $1.09 billion in online sales this year. This marks a 9 percent increase from last year's $1 billion.
"This is also the second straight year that Thanksgiving has established itself as one of the more important online buying days, while Black Friday continues to gain in importance online with each passing year," comScore Chairman Emeritus Gian Fulgoni said. "Looking ahead to Cyber Monday, we expect to see upwards of $2.5 billion in desktop spending as people return to their work computers after Thanksgiving weekend and use some of their down time to continue their holiday gift buying, but without other family members looking over their shoulders."
HookLogic, a performance marketing company, reported that mobile shopping was a frequent activity throughout Thanksgiving day and Black Friday. On Thanksgiving morning, 71 percent of online shopping was conducted on a mobile device. HookLogic suggested this was the result of shoppers enjoying the morning in bed and scrolling through their phones. Mobile shopping continued to prevail throughout the holiday, and about 60 percent of online purchases during Black Friday were mobile as well. This indicates that while desktop shopping was still popular, shopping on a phone, tablet or similar device was the consumer method of choice.
What's interesting to note is that both reports seemed to put equal emphasis on Black Friday and Thanksgiving itself. The Thanksgiving holiday is no longer just a day off for family and feasting, it's increasingly a multiday shopping event that seems to be expanding.
Time magazine reported that Black Friday sales (or similar events hosted by stores) are occurring earlier. Many Black Friday deals began on Thanksgiving Day, a few weeks before Thanksgiving, or even at the beginning of the month. Some retailers even chose a sporadic technique, having a temporary sale in the weeks before the holiday and ending it before Thanksgiving begins. Time noted similar occurrences regarding Cyber Monday, specifically citing the fact that Walmart.com has had daily online sales since Nov. 6 and will continue to do so throughout the season. Amazon has also jumped on the idea of multiple November sales. Forbes reported that Amazon's Black Friday event spanned eight days and included new discounts every five minutes. The online retail leader also offered 10 "Deals of the Day" on its site and 150 "lightning deals" on its mobile app. Amazon's Cyber Monday deals were a separate event, although the five minute sales will continue throughout the week.
Marketplace suggested that these sale extensions may be a result of retailers wanting a greater number of earlier purchases to make up for a decline in impulsive shopping. The reason for this decline? The convenience of online payments.
"I think this observation of foot traffic in physical stores being down is absolutely affected by the fact that more people are pre-shopping online," Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst at Forrester Research, told Marketplace.
It's a sensible observation, especially considering the reports by comScore and HookLogic. Instead of fighting crowds all through Black Friday (and risking going over-budget), customers are turning to the convenience of online shopping.
It is unknown whether online shopping will ever truly dominate or if November will become a month-long sales event; however, e-commerce payments and extended sales are proving popular and effective at encouraging consumer spending.
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