online shopping

Thanksgiving’s post-turkey stupor met its match Thursday as the massive allure of holiday retail promotions carved out high numbers going into Black Friday.

Before sitting down to dinner at 5 p.m. ET on Thursday, people tapped and swiped their way to $1.52 billion in online spending, making for 16.8 percent growth, year over year, said Adobe. The momentum carried over to the next morning: Preliminary figures for Black Friday mark $640 million in online spending as of 10 a.m. ET, representing 18.4 percent growth.

The manner in which consumers shopped online may matter even more than the straight transaction figures. While phone, tablet and desktop usage showed growth over the course of the month, mobile exploded on the holiday — likely due to people sneaking in some shopping on the road or between festivities, Adobe added. More than half of online visits to retail sites took place on a mobile device, said the company, with 46.1 percent of visits being conducted on smartphones and 9.6 percent on tablets. Altogether, these devices brought in 41 percent of revenue, with smartphones accounting for more than two-thirds of that business, at 29 percent.

The next day, mobile shopping climbed further still, breaking record highs. As of noon on Black Friday, phones brought in 50.9 percent of online visits, and tablets delivered 10.2 percent. Together, they drove 46.2 percent of total revenue.

“The big story this holiday season is in mobile shopping,” said Mickey Mericle, vice president of marketing and customer insights at Adobe. “Retailers know this is where the audience is now and are delivering better experiences.”

The evidence indicates that revenue has started to catch up with mobile traffic. “Shoppers looking for discounts are getting better at using smartphones to quickly close the deal, and we are seeing better mobile conversion this season at over 10 percent growth,” he said.

The final tally for Thanksgiving, according to the company, came to a grand total of $2.87 billion in online spending, for a 18.3-percent year-over-year growth. The final count for the pre-Thanksgiving period, since the start of November through Wednesday, added up to $33.26 billion, for 17.9 percent growth.

Online advertising company Criteo drilled in further, distinguishing between online shoppers — who include general site visitors and people merely browsing — and purchasers, who carry out the transactions.

On earlier days, such as November 7, the number of purchasers were up 54.2 percent. On Thanksgiving, they were up just 26.6 percent. The firm compiled the data from its “sponsored products” network, which covers retailers including Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Toy’s ‘r’ Us, Kohl’s, Costco, Kmart, Wayfair and Macy’s.

Its early Black Friday insights show that the number of purchasers outpaced shoppers by a significant margin, as of noon on Friday. Year over year, the number of shoppers increased 4.9 percent, while purchasers increased 12.1 percent.

“The relatively higher increase in purchasers compared to shoppers indicates that people had already shopped around for goods and were ready to buy,” explained a company spokeswoman. “Black Friday doesn’t show the gains it might have in past years, as retailers triggered deals earlier in the month.”

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