Black Friday Online Spending Up 1%

Black Friday saw $534 million in online retail spending (excluding travel), up 1 percent compared with the prior year, according to digital tracking company comScore. For the combination of Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, online sales were up 2 percent relative to last year.

Approximately $288 million was spent on Thanksgiving Day, a 6 percent increase, comScore reports.

For the first 28 days in November, $10.41 billion has been spent online, marking a 4-percent decline versus the corresponding days last year, according to the Reston, Va.-based company.

“Early reports suggest that Black Friday sales in retail stores were slightly better than anticipated in this depressed retail climate, and that performance apparently extended to the online channel,” said comScore chairman, Gian Fulgoni. “It’s probable that on Black Friday consumers responded positively to the very aggressive promotions and discounts being offered in retail stores, so it will be important to see how they respond to similarly attractive deals being offered online on Cyber Monday, the traditional kick-off to the online holiday shopping season.”

Evidently, one of the benefits of avoiding the Black Friday crush at retail stores and opting to shop online is not waking up at the crack of dawn. The early morning rush online – between the hours of 4:00-8:00 a.m. – accounted for just 11 percent of the day’s total online retail sales, while the period after 8:00 a.m. saw 84 percent of online sales take place. The 12:00- 4:00 p.m. segment represented the highest share of Black Friday online sales (24 percent), with the hour of 12:00-1:00 p.m. being the heaviest individual hour of spending with 8 percent of sales.

The Monday after Thanksgiving, known as “Cyber Monday,” represents the first significant spike in online spending activity for the holiday season, accoding to comScore. The phenomenon results from Cyber Monday being the first working day following the Thanksgiving holiday and the fact that purchases from work still account for approximately half of all e-commerce spending.

Interestingly, Cyber Monday has historically proved to be an accurate bellwether for the overall performance of the online holiday shopping season. While the year-over-year growth rates for individual online spending days vary quite significantly throughout the season, during the past few years Cyber Monday has been within a few percentage points of the final holiday season growth rate.

For example, in 2007, Cyber Monday saw a year-over-year sales increase of 21 percent, while the growth of online spending for the holiday season was 19 percent.

“With so much volatility right now in the variables that influence consumer spending, predicting where this online holiday season will end up has been far more challenging than in previous years,” Fulgoni said. “That said, Cyber Monday may well prove to be an important indicator of whether the decline in spending that we’ve seen during the first few weeks of the online holiday season will continue for the balance of the year.”