E- and M-Commerce Soar on Thanksgiving and Black Friday

Dec. 2, 2013

If it seemed like Black Friday started earlier than ever this year, it did, and e-commerce reaped some of the benefit, according to several measures of retail activity. A late Thanksgiving (and shorter holiday shopping season) prompted many retailers to begin offering their traditional post-Thanksgiving Day deals on Thanksgiving. And, for the first time, online sales pierced the billion-dollar mark on both Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, according to the Adobe Digital Index 2013. Online sales totaled $1.06 billion on Thursday and $1.93 billion on Friday, Adobe said. This year’s holiday kickoff also saw record online sales originating on mobile devices. Nearly a quarter of Thursday and Friday’s online sales originated on smartphones and tablets, a 118 percent increase from last year.

“Online shopping data shows that consumers took full advantage of their mobile devices to shop on Thanksgiving Day and ‘omnishop’ while in stores on Black Friday,” said Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst for the Adobe Digital Index. “In an attempt to play every angle possible, retailers poured money into new mobile capabilities by adding Wi-Fi to key stores, expanding mobile app offerings, and optimizing websites for easier transactions from small screens. The results were record online sales driven by tablets and smartphones this year.”

Adobe’s data was corroborated by IBM, which said e- and m-commerce sales on Thursday grew 19.7 percent and showed an 18.9 percent bump from last year on Black Friday. The IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark also showed about the same percentage of online sales from mobile devices (25.8 percent on Thursday and 21.8 percent on Friday). Most mobile traffic was driven by smartphones, the IBM report found, but actual sales were driven more by tablets.

Smartphones drove 24.9 percent of all online traffic on Black Friday compared to tablets at 14.2 percent, making it the browsing device of choice, the IBM report said. Tablets drove 14.4 percent of all online sales, double that of smartphones, which accounted for 7.2 percent of all online sales. On average, tablet users spent $132.75 per order compared to smartphone users who spent $115.63. Also, IBM researchers found iOS users spent $127.92 per order on Black Friday compared to $105.20 per order for Android users.

The American Black Friday “holiday” also has gone global, observers found. Same-store online sales to international customers rose 50 percent, according to Borderfree, a New York City-based consultancy and technology provider for U.S. companies using e-commerce to sell internationally.