Thanksgiving, Black Friday Drive Mobile Sales

by , Dec 2, 2013, 3:02 PM
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This past holiday weekend was big not only for brick-and-mortar sales (some of us have seen the recent Black Friday near-riot videos) but for more civilized digital sales -- and for mobile in particular. Data from the Adobe Digital Index 2013 shows that Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday brought in $1.062 billion and $1.93 billion, respectively. IBM's Digital Analytics Benchmark found that Black Friday sales rose 20% year-over-year and mobile traffic increased 40%.

The latter firm said the biggest surge came from mobile sales, which reached 25.8% of total online transactions for Thanksgiving, and 21.8% for Black Friday. The company also reported that New York City consumers led the way in Black Friday online sales, followed by Atlanta and Los Angeles.

Adobe's study, based on an analysis of some 400 million visits to more than 2,000 U.S. retailers’ Web sites on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, found that 24% of online sales occurred on smartphones and tablets -- a record increase of 118% year-over-year. iOS-based devices drove more than $543 million in online sales, with iPad taking a 77% share of those sales, while Android channelled $148 million in total online consumer purchases.

IBM said that tablets taken together drove 14.4% of all online sales -- double that of smartphones, which accounted for 7.2% of all digital consumer purchase transactions. On average, tablet users spent $132.75 per order compared to smartphone users who spent $115.63 -- a difference of 15%.

Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst, Adobe Digital Index, suggested that retailers helped push the trend by investing in mobile capabilities -- partly by adding WiFi to key stores, and by expanding mobile app offerings and making Web sites scalable to small screens. IBM data adds that on average, retailers sent 37% more push notifications during the two-day period over Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday when compared to daily averages over the past two months. Average daily retail app installations also grew by 23%, per the company.

Amazon, iPad, the National Football League (NFL), and Sony PlayStation 4 were the the top mentions in social media over the holiday and the day after, with Amazon getting close to 450,000 posts, per Adobe. Walmart had some 300,000 mentions and PlayStation 4 drove close to three times more social media traffic on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube and other sites than Microsoft’s Xbox One. And the NFL garnered almost twice as much social media buzz than Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Thoughts of shopping overshadowed the holiday itself as social conversations containing the term “Black Friday” received more mentions than Thanksgiving Day.

The holiday was also good for physical retailers that have online channels. The firm said that throughout the year these "brick-and-click” brands have outsold “online-only” competitors at nearly a three-to-one ratio. Toys, sporting goods, and jewelry led the categories with an increase in sales of 680% compared to an average sales day for these three category winners.

“We're off to an incredibly fast start this holiday season as retailers and consumers meet at the intersection of cloud, mobile and social platforms to both offer and take advantage of the best deals,” said Jay Henderson, strategy director, IBM Smarter Commerce, in a statement.  

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