by Robin Fiedler

Online retailers scored $595 million in sales on Black Friday 2009, an 11% percent increase from Black Friday 2008, reports comScore. It's still a fraction of the estimated $10.6 billion reported by ShopperTrak for total retail sales on Black Friday 2009, a 0.5% increase over 2008, but the numbers indicate a shift in shopping preferences. Cyber Monday may score even better. computer_shopcart

"'Black Friday, better known as a shopping bonanza in brick-and-mortar retail stores, is increasingly becoming one of the landmark days in the online holiday shopping world,' said comScore chairman, Gian Fulgoni." It marks the second-busiest day online so far this year.

As well, comScore reports online shopping has a 3% increase to date for the month of November 2009 compared to the same days last year. More consumers were shopping online on Thanksgiving Day, when sales jumped 10% from $288 million to $318 million.

In the "real" retail world, ShopperTrak reported an interesting regional drop in Black Friday overall retail sales for the Northeast: "Regionally, the West led the way with a 4.7 percent retail sales rise over 2008, followed by the Midwest (+1.3 percent), South (+0.6 percent) and Northeast (-4.9 percent)." Could it be that the Northeast has been slower to recover from the economic crisis? Or perhaps colder weather kept shoppers home?

The growing preference for online shopping is being attributed to online promotions and marketing. Not only have the retailers stepped up advertising campaigns from recent years, but in addition, websites have popped up offering coupons, as well as organizing and reporting on discounts and deals. "The number of visitors to coupon sites on Black Friday grew 17 percent versus [a] year ago to 3.3 million visitors," according to comScore.

The Top 5 most visited online retailers for Black Friday were Amazon, Wal*Mart, Apple, Target and Best Buy. They each had more than 4 million unique visitors to their websites. All had an increase in traffic from 2008. Amazon had 28% more visitors, according to comScore. Admittedly, the increase measured just visitors, not sales, but Amazon and Wal*Mart are expected to have the top sales.

For overall weekend retail sales, the National Retail Federation estimates Americans spent $41.2 billion and "195 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend, up from 172 million last year. However, the average spending over the weekend dropped to $343.31 per person from $372.57 a year ago."

Surprisingly, the NRF says department stores were the most popular place to shop "with nearly half (49.4%) of holiday shoppers visiting at least one, a 12.9 percent increase from last year. Discount retailers took an uncharacteristic back seat, with 43.2 percent of holiday shoppers heading to discount stores over the weekend." The decrease in physical discount store shoppers may be influenced by increased online shopping through Amazon and Wal*Mart.

Will Cyber Monday 2009 beat Black Friday 2009's online $595 million take? It did in 2008. Bring on the virtual shopping carts.

Sources

"Black Friday Boasts $595 Million in U.S. Online Holiday Spending, Up 11 Percent Versus Year Ago." comScore. 29 Nov. 2009.

"Black Friday Retail Sales Increase 0.5% as Compared to 2008." ShopperTrak 28 Nov. 2009.

Grannis, Kathy. "Black Friday Verdict: As Expected Number of Shoppers Up, Average Spending Down." National Retail Federation. 29 Nov. 2009.

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