Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart Lead Online Sales

Online-Shopping-IpadWith brick-and-mortar retailers still sweeping up the stampede dust and pepper spray from Black Friday, online retailers are sorting through their own deluge: E-commerce experts are estimating Cyber Monday sales between 15% and 20% higher than last year’s record results.

"Retailers have done a great job this year, not just of letting consumers know about great promotions, but also great products," John Squire, chief strategy officer for IBM Smarter Commerce, which tracked online sales continually over the weekend, tells Marketing Daily. By midday, it reports, Monday's online sales were up 15% from last year. A big part of that, he says, is that “online retailers finally understand that free shipping is just the ante. They are in a race to get share of wallet and this enables them to do that earlier, and manage inventory better.”



ComScore is reporting that Black Friday was also a banner day for online sales, with $816 million -- a 26% jump from the prior year. Online sales on Thanksgiving came in at $479 million, an 18% jump. And all online spending for the month of November through the 25th reached $11.1 billion -- a 15% bounce.

Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Target and Apple were the five most-visited sites on Friday. (And ChannelAdvisor reports that Amazon's same-store sales growth reached 58% this weekend.)

Despite those gains, not all experts are convinced it's time to make merry. The unexpected strength "is a sign that the retailers have connected with their customers and communicated the value and the deals available to them," Ted Vaughan, a partner in the Retail and Consumer Product Practice at BDO USA, tells Marketing Daily in an email.

Retailers pushed their promotions very hard by providing early opening hours and deep discounts. Online sales really bolstered results, he says, and are further evidence that "the customer is armed with information and retailers and listening." Still, he says, it's possible that rather than indicating a strong holiday season, "it may have pulled forward December sales into the end of November."

Meanwhile, he's not worried that the weekend's widely reported fisticuffs will give Black Friday a black eye. "We have seen unruly behavior before as the crowds grow and the deals get bigger," he says. "While retailers need to take precautions to prevent these incidents, I don't think it will dampen the excitement for next year's Black Friday."

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