U.S. Thanksgiving, Black Friday Sales Break $1B; Total Holiday Spent Online Will Be $89B

U.S. Thanksgiving, Black Friday Sales Break $1B; Total Holiday Spent Online Will Be $89B

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Cyber Monday will be used by online retailers to extend the flood of the post-Thanksgiving holiday sales rush. Analysts are coming out with the first number laying out how holiday sales have been doing so far. The bottom line is this, record numbers for e-commerce retail, with holiday shopping across the nation and Europe approaching $130 bill, according to figures from Forrester Research.

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The good news for online sales comes as the bigger picture for retail is not as bright. The National Retail Federation is reporting that sales across both online and brick and mortar stores for the past four days are down 11%, to $50.9 billion from $57.4 billion a year ago.

The early number from comScore, reports that it appears like online sales got off to a good start in the United States, with Thanksgiving topping $1 billion and Black Friday passing $1.5 billion, respective growth of 32% and 26% over 2013.

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A company which tracks sales in real time, IBRm, through it’s Benchmark tool, has also now published its figures for U.S. e-commerce sites performed over the weekend between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

On the track of strong sales on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, IBM found that online sales were up 17% versus the same period a year ago, while mobile continued to be a strong driver of both traffic and buying, accounting for 51.2% of all e-commerce browsing, and 28..9% of sales.

Remember that on Thanksgiving, IBM found that one-third of sales were completed on mobile devices.

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This will contribute to what Forrester is terming a record year, with the U.S. reaching an all time high of online sales this year of $89 billion, up 13% on 2013 and accounting for 30% of all eCommerce spent in 2014, yet with growth down by several percentage points compared to recent years.

Thanksgiving is becoming an ever stronger period for e-Commerce, boosted by brick and mortar stores mostly remaining closed and people being cooped up at home for the day. IBM, which doesn’t track actual values, noted that sales were up 14% on Turkey day.

And Forrester’s research appears to underscore those findings. Black Friday sales in the U.S. were actually down by 11% this year. Analyst Sucharita Mulpuru attributed that to the day becoming “eclipsed” by Cyber Monday, Thanksgiving and shipping issues.

“It represents a deceleration in growth due to a shorter holiday selling season”, in other words, less days between Thanksgiving and Christmas than in years past, “and capacity constraints in the package delivery network.” She writes.

In the interim, Europe this year went all out on Black Friday promotions for the first time, despite the lack of Thanksgiving, and it will complement the U.S. figures with sales $44 billion.

“Black Friday and Cyber Monday are increasingly influencing EU online shopping, particularly in the UK,” writes Forrester analyst Michelle Beeson. “These traditionally US sales days may be irrelevant now, but retail heavyweights like Apple and Amazon have a trac record of influencing consumer behavior and setting new standards in Europe.”

When your local London supermarket and stationery shop start offering Black Friday bonanzas, you can see that this has already started happening.

Forrester has identified a few other key trends in the U.S.:

-3.4 million new online buyers
. While this sounds great, Forrester’s caveat here is that the number of new buyers is actually shrinking every ear, since “most online consumers are already shopping online.”

This is also one of the reasons why those shopping baskets are shrinking a bit in IBM’s estimates: IBM says that in the past weekend, the average order value was $123.81, “flat compared to the same period in 2013.”

What’s going on? The wider pool of users means more cost-conscious shoppers are coming online, and it also means significantly more competition to pick up those buyers, hence lower prices. Overall those online retailers will see $10 billion more in sales from new shoppers in November and December, compared to a year ago.

-More wallet share online. The average online buyer will spend 10% more online in 2014 than he did in 2013, partly because of familiarity with the experience but also because there is just more out there to buy than before.

-Rise of mobile. Following IBM’s strong assessment of the role of mobile in sales, Forrester chimes in with their own numbers to back this up: it says there are currently 213 million consumers who are expected to have smartphones in 2014.

“Shoppers with access to phones on heavy dsale dates, like Black Friday for instance, often choose to research and buy on those devices to capture great deals, “Mulpuru writes. She notes that “on key dates in 2013, in particular Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, 34% and 38% of shoppers, respectively, said that they used mobile devices to shop. In contrast, those figures were just 21% and 23% in 2012.”

It will be worth seeing how much the needle moves on these number in 2014.

In the meantime, drilling down into mobile stats a bit more, IBM is reporting a continuation of the same trends that it highlighted on Thanksgiving: iOS remains the stronger platform when it comes to consumers browsing and buying, and bigger screens appear to lead to more purchases. Desktop PC traffic represented 48.6% of all online traffic, but 71.1% of all online sales, with an average order value of $128.60 versus $112.81 on mobile devices.

Apple iOS users averaged $117.45 per order versus to $97.74 for Android users, and iOS sales accounted for 22.7% of total online sales, nearly four times that of Android at a mere 6% of all online sales. iOS traffic accounted for 35.4% of total online traffic, more than double that of Android at 15.4%

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