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Total retail spending hit an estimated $59.1 billion over the Black Friday weekend (Thursday through Sunday), projects the NRF, representing 12.8% growth from $52.4 billion last year. That increase was driven by a greater number of shoppers, particularly on Thanksgiving Day (+23.2%). In fact, in-store sales grew by an impressive 70.8% year-over-year on Thanksgiving, according to the Chase Holiday Pulse, though they dipped by 7.2% on Black Friday. But while in-store shopping may have been down on Black Friday, e-commerce spending showed solid double-digit growth, according to reports from comScore and IBM.

The comScore figures indicate that Black Friday saw a 26% year-over-year increase in retail e-commerce spend to pass $1 billion, making it the biggest online spending day of the year to date, and the first year that Black Friday sales topped that threshold. Thanksgiving Day saw an even greater year-over-year increase, of 32%, bringing its total to $633 million.

Meanwhile, IBM’s report [pdf] estimates slower – but still healthy – growth in e-commerce spending. The digital analytics benchmark put Thanksgiving Day online sales growth at 17.4%, and Black Friday growth at 20.7%.

Finally, the Chase Holiday Pulse indicates e-commerce sales volume rose by 9.7% year-over-year on Thanksgiving Day, and by 15.2% year-over-year on Black Friday.

Top Category on Black Friday: Apparel & Accessories

The comScore report finds that the apparel and accessories category was the most successful online category on Black Friday, drawing more than one-quarter of all money spent. Last year, it ranked behind Computer Hardware in the top categories list. The IBM report also shows solid numbers for apparel sales, up 17.5% over 2011, while the NRF survey found clothing or clothing accessories to be the most popular gift type among consumers (for both online and in-store over the weekend).

For the year-to-date, comScore reveals that the top-growing e-commerce categories are: digital content and subscriptions (29%), toys (27%), consumer packaged goods (23%), video game consoles and accessories (18%), and consumer electronics (18%).

Mobile Shopping Soars on Black Friday

Further details from the IBM report confirm the growing influence of mobile devices this holiday season. The report finds that 24% of retail site traffic on Black Friday came from mobiles, up from 14.3% last year. That led to mobile’s percentage of sales passing 16%, from last year’s 9.8%.

Apple devices were a strong contributor to this growth. The iPad accounted for close to 10% of online shopping, followed by the iPhone (8.7%) and Android (5.5%).

Other Findings:

  • Excluding auction sites like eBay, comScore data indicates that Amazon was the most-visited online retail site on Black Friday, ahead of Walmart, Best Buy, Target, and Apple. Overall, 57.3 million Americans visited online retail sites on Black Friday, up 18% from 2011.
  • Consumers shopped more frequently but paid less per order. Chase data shows e-commerce transactions up 29.9% year-over-year on Black Friday, with the average ticket value down about 11%. The IBM report shows average order value was down 4.7%, along with the number of items per order down 12%.
  • Also from IBM: referrals from social networks accounted for just 0.34% of online sales on Black Friday, a drop of more than 35% from last year.
  • Conversion rate from mobile devices (2.72%) trailed the overall conversion rate (4.58%).
  • Per the NRF, the average person spent 40.7% of their total Black Friday weekend spending online, or $172.42.
  • Department stores were the most popular shopping destination with an estimated 53.5% of shoppers visiting one over the weekend. 43.8% of shoppers visited a retailer website.

About the Data: The NRF data is based on a survey conducted Nov. 23-24 by BIGinsight, of 4,005 consumers.

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