Black Friday online sales break record with $1B

Faith Merino · November 25, 2012 · Short URL:

Online sales were up 26% on Black Friday

Holy Moses, e-retailers!  We knew it was going to be a big year for online shopping, but who knew it was going to be this huge?  (No, you didn’t, so put your hand down.)

Black Friday saw record e-commerce sales, with some 57 million Americans visiting online retail stores on Friday.  ComScore reported that Black Friday saw more than $1 billion in online sales, marking an increase of 26%.  It also represents the heaviest day of online sales to date in 2012—and, of course, it’s the first time that Black Friday has topped $1 billion in online sales.  Last year, Black Friday raked in $816 million.

You might recall that Cyber Monday reached this major milestone back in 2010, and then broke that record by hitting $1.25 billion last year.

Interestingly, early reports indicate that Black Friday sales in brick-and-mortar stores (for which the shopping day has traditionally been a major boon) were down 1.8%.  It only makes sense, considering so many retailers now offer the same exact sales online that they’re offering in-store—so you have a choice: you can schlub it to Walmart in your jammies with a Thanksgiving hangover dulling your reflexes and making it harder to dodge rogue shopping carts, or you can stay home and try to remember to check the store’s website at midnight. 

Speaking of shopping with a food baby, Thanksgiving Day saw some unprecedented online sales, totaling some $633 million for a whopping 32% increase over last year, when consumers spent $479 million online.  I really wouldn’t be surprised if the controversy surrounding stores like Walmart, Target, and Sears for starting their Black Friday sales on Thursday evening had something to do with the marked increase in online traffic. 

Web traffic to online retail stores was up 18% on Black Friday compared to last year.  Data from IBM’s Smarter Commerce division last week highlighted the rising tide of mobile commerce, with mobile devices accounting for 28.5% of online traffic on Thanksgiving Day.

The holiday season to date is up 16% overall, with $13.7 billion in sales. 

“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,” said comScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni, in a statement.

I am, indeed, looking forward to Cyber Monday.  I loves me some free shipping with no minimum purchase.

Naturally, Amazon was the most visited retail site on Black Friday, followed by, Best Buy, Target, and Apple (?).  And once again, the top selling product category is digital content and subscriptions, which was up 29% on Black Friday.  We’ll have to keep an eye on this one—it’ll be very interesting to see if digital content and subscriptions remains the top selling category through Christmas, when, traditionally, hardware (computers, smartphones, tablets, e-readers, digital cameras, etc.) becomes the top selling category.  


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