Just An Online Minute... Black Friday Traffic

Were you prowling around the shopping mall parking lot last Friday looking for a space? Or, were you online?

According to Nielsen//NetRatings, many of us were online. In fact, Nielsen reports that traffic to online shopping sites grew 29 percent year-over-year on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. The fastest growing product categories were toys/video games, consumer electronics, and computer hardware/software. The 29 percent increase translates to 17.2 million unique visitors to more than 100 online retailers, compared to 13.3 million visitors in 2004.

EBay was the top online retailer on Black Friday, with 9.5 million unique visitors, followed by Amazon, and Wal-Mart Stores, which drew 4.6 million and 3.4 million unique visitors, respectively, according to Nielsen. Target and BestBuy.com rounded out the top five online shopping destinations, attracting unique audiences of 2.9 million and 2.1 million, respectively.

And Hitwise discovered something interesting: for the third year in a row, Thanksgiving Day proved to be a hit for online shopping, surpassing Black Friday as the busiest day in market share of visits to online stores.

"For years, retailers have used offline sales on Black Friday as a barometer for the upcoming holiday season," said Bill Tancer, general manager of research at Hitwise, in a press release. "However, as we've seen in previous holiday seasons, market share of online visits to retailers can provide a more complete picture of both online shopping and online research for offline purchases."

Tancer added: "The spike in visits on Thanksgiving Day for bestbuy.dailyshopper.com, a site that provides localized sales circulars for Best Buy stores, is confirmation that online research for offline sales is a significant Internet behavior on Thanksgiving Day. Online and offline retailers must factor both research and online shopping activity when formulating their holiday marketing strategy."

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