Led By Amazon, iPads, Cyber Monday Sets New Record

by , Dec 3, 2013, 6:59 PM
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While the clicks and cash registers will keep spinning until Christmas, experts say enough results are in to clearly spell out the season’s trends. The big winners? Amazon, iPads, just about anything sold online, and … towels. And the losers? In brick-and-mortar stores, the entire Black Friday weekend took it on the chin.

First, the good news is Cyber Monday: ComScore reports that online sales in the U.S. topped $1.74  billion, jumping 18% from a year ago and setting a new record. And for the five-day period from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, online buying from desktop computers rose 22% to $5.3 billion. IBM, which also tracks spending, says that by its measures, Cyber Monday sales rose 21%.

“Any notion that Cyber Monday is declining in importance appears to be completely unfounded as its strong year-over-year growth rate of 18% resulted in yet another record for online spending in a single day,” says comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni in its release of the results. “While it’s true that many retailers are bleeding their Cyber Monday promotions into the weekend before and the days afterward, Cyber Monday itself continues to be the most important day of the online holiday shopping season. That said, we did also see evidence of early promotions pulling some dollars forward into the weekend, so it is possible that Cyber Monday could have even been stronger were it not for the emergence of this trend.”

ComScore also says 49% of online spending dollars came from work computers, up 2 percentage points from last year.

IBM says mobile sales were also very strong, up 55%, to account for 17% of total online sales. Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali tells Marketing Daily that “mobile traffic seemed particularly strong.”

But there’s plenty of bad news to go around, too, especially for stores hoping for bigger sales down at the mall. ShopperTrak, which provides shopper analytics, estimates that brick-and-mortar sales gained just 1% to an estimated total of $22.2 billion across the four days, while foot traffic dropped 4%. By region, the Northeast showed the biggest decline, with traffic falling 10%, followed by a 5% decline in the Midwest, a 2% drop in the South, and no change in the West.

In terms of what shoppers are looking for, PriceGrabber, an ecommerce platform and shopping site, says that Apple’s iPad and iPad Mini were the weekend’s most clicked-on items, followed by the LG 55” LED TV, and New Balance Running Shoes. And while Walmart says it sold plenty of consumer electronics, there’s always a surprise: This year, towels turned out to be the biggest seller, with the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer saying it sold 2.8 million on Black Friday.

PriceGrabber says Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Best Buy and Target were the leading on-line merchants.

Category performance varied widely. For example, while consumer electronics were strong online sellers and ComScore’s top-gaining category, ShopperTrak reports that in stores, traffic in those stores and departments sank 7%. Video game consoles and accessories, home & garden, apparel & accessories and sports & fitness were also in ComScore’s top-five fastest growing categories.

ShopperTrak says those clothing saw an increase of 9% in traffic over the weekend, with shoppers drawn to extensive promotions. And those discounts, in fact, may be the most significant theme of all to emerge this season. 

“This year, Black Friday gave us a taste of what to expect for the remainder of the holiday selling season: intense competition, deep discounts, and choppy mall traffic,” write Ike Boruchow and Tom Nikic, analysts with Sterne Agee. “Earlier store openings drove heavy traffic, which dissipated and then bounced through the day. We note that about 70% of retailers were more promotional, especially Gap and Old Navy.”

Sterne Agee noted traffic declines at Coach, Lucky Brand and Fossil.

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