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Black Friday E-Commerce by the Numbers

  |  November 28, 2011   |  Comments

Mobile contributed to a big year-over-year increase in consumer spending activity.

E-commerce spending surged on Black Friday, and retailers responded in kind with a significant increase in search advertising.

U.S. shoppers spent $816 million online on Black Friday (Nov. 26), comScore estimates, 26 percent more than they did one year ago. Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 25), typically a light e-commerce day, also saw a sizable 18 percent uptick in spending to $479 million.

Meanwhile IBM Coremetrics' estimate for the day was slightly more conservative. It found Black Friday consumer spending grew 24 percent this year. But it says Thanksgiving Day online retail spending increased at a much higher growth rate of 39 percent.

Mobile Shopping Spikes, iPad Shows Mettle

Black Friday mobile traffic to retail sites grew 14.3 percent, compared to 5.6 percent in 2010, according to IBM. Meanwhile sales transacted on mobile devices surged to 9.8 percent of total sales, compared with 3.2 percent last year, perhaps owing to wider adoption of tablets.

Indeed, IBM says iPad-wielding shoppers bought more and more often than users of other mobile devices. Average iPad conversion rates were 4.6 percent, it said, compared to 2.8 percent for all devices last year.

Social Sputters?

IBM also attempted to track the influence of social networks on e-commerce sales. It found Black Friday shoppers that originated on social sites generated a seemingly paltry 0.53 percent of all online sales. Not surprisingly, Facebook accounted for the bulk (75 percent) of this traffic.

Retailers Respond

Search advertisers spent more in response to the consumer frenzy, at least according to Performics. The search-centric agency said Thanksgiving Day saw the largest increase in activity. Paid search spending on that day climbed 128 percent year-over-year, while the total number of search ad clicks rose 87 percent. Meanwhile Black Friday saw paid search spending surge by 120 percent and clicks rise by 65 percent. Prices increased steadily during the week as well.


The agency also forecasts that paid mobile search advertising will account for 25.4 percent of all paid search clicks in December.

"We've never seen such clear evidence that searching for holiday shopping is happening earlier and earlier each year," said Dan Parks, associate director of strategy and analytics. "Clicks are up significantly, and we saw a very significant increase in the percentage of clicks from mobile devices indicating true cross-channel shopping."

Hot Categories

Among retail categories, department stores scored the most year-over-year growth in Black Friday e-commerce spending. E-commerce sales in this sector grew 59 percent from 2010. Other high-growth categories were home goods (up 48.8 percent), apparel (47.2 percent), and health/beauty (34.2 percent).



Zachary Rodgers

Until March 2012, Zach Rodgers was managing editor of ClickZ's award-winning coverage of news and trends in digital marketing. He reported on the rise of web companies, data markets, ad technologies, and government Internet policy, among other subjects. 

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