by Leena Rao
We've seen the reports that Black Friday online sales increased this year, but the numbers are finally in. comScore is reporting that U.S. retail e-commerce spending was $1.042 billion on Black Friday, an increase of 26 percent from Black Friday last year. This is the first time Black Friday sales surpassed $1 billion in online spending, says comScore.
For the holiday season-to-date, $13.7 billion has been spent online, which is a 16 percent increase versus the corresponding days last year. Consumers spent $633 million on Thanksgiving Day, a 32 percent increase from last year.
"Despite the frenzy of media coverage surrounding the importance of Black Friday in the brick-and-mortar world, we continue to see this shopping day become more and more prominent in the e-commerce channel - particularly among those who prefer to avoid crowds at the stores," said comScore chairman, Gian Fulgoni, in a release.
With Black Friday online sales up 26 percent and surpassing $1 billion for the first time, coupled with early reports indicating that Black Friday sales in retail stores were down 1.8 percent, we can now confidently call it a multi-channel marketing phenomenon. Meanwhile, Thanksgiving Day - which has historically been a lighter online holiday shopping day - continues to gain steam and grew well ahead of the current pace as more consumers opted to kick off their holiday shopping immediately after the big meal to take advantage of aggressive retailer promotions. 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.
In terms of specific retailers, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) was the most popular e-commerce site by visits, followed by Walmart (NYSE:WMT), Best Buy (NYSE:BBY), Target (NYSE:TGT), and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). In total, 57.3 million Americans visited online retail sites on Black Friday, representing an increase of 18 percent versus a year ago. Amazon also posted the highest year-over-year visitor growth rate among the top five retailers.
Digital Content & Subscriptions is the top-growing online retail product category (up 29 percent versus year ago). Toys are seeing a gain of 27 percent, followed by Consumer Packaged Goods (up 23 percent), Video Game Consoles & Accessories (up 18 percent) and Consumer Electronics (up 18 percent). For Black Friday, the most amount of dollars online was spent on Apparel & Accessories, accounting for more than a quarter of all dollars spent online. The category has historically ranked No. 2 behind Computer Hardware, as it did on Black Friday 2011.
It looks like signs are pointing to online spending surging on Cyber Monday as well, as retailers push personalized offers and promotions. Stay tuned.