Don’t look to brick-and-mortar for proof, but Black Friday sales just won’t stop growing (online).
In a nine percent increase from the year before, U.S. retail customers spent $648 million online versus $595 million a year ago and $534 million two years ago, according to comScore.
It wasn’t just Black Friday that hit record numbers, of course.
On Thanksgiving Day, sales hit $407 million, up 28 percent from $318 million a year ago. For the start of the holiday season, which includes all of the month of November up to and including Black Friday, Americans spent $11.6 billion, up 13 percent from last year’s $10.3 billion.
“Although Black Friday is known for the flurry of activity occurring in brick-and-mortar retail stores, online shopping is increasingly becoming the refuge of those preferring to avoid the crowds and long lines,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni.
While Black Friday in-store sales mostly stayed stale, according to both ShopperTrak and the National Retail Federation, online retail didn’t have everything to do with it. Many retailers started pushing out deals early this year. Toys “R” Us, for example, opened its doors to customers on the evening of Thanksgiving, stealing some of the sales thunder from Black Friday.
And, of course, the economy is just plain better, making for more lighthearted shopping.
"People seemed happier this weekend, while last year they were more desperate, feeling they had to get the bargains," said Gerald Storch, chief executive of Toys "R" Us Inc.
In spite of gifting free shipping on tens of thousands of holiday items, Walmart failed to edge out Amazon’s clear domination over online sales on Black Friday. (Looks like Amazon narrowly escaped a public relations and holiday sales disaster with that book on how to be a pedophile.) In fact, while traffic to Amazon increased by 25 percent since 2009, traffic to Walmart dipped one percent. Target grew by nine percent and Best Buy by one percent. All four saw over four million U.S. unique visitors on Black Friday alone.
It’s pretty much expected that Amazon will be the most visited on Cyber Monday, today, the biggest shopping day for online retailers. In 2008, Amazon was responsible for 11 percent of the day’s traffic, and in 2009, that number had jumped to 16 percent.
We’ll be sure to report on how retailers fared this year on Cyber Monday versus Black Friday and last year’s holiday sales.