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The first reports from the trenches show more retailers than not had an OK sales day—OK, they say, relative to the economic climate this year compared with last.
The doom and gloom of the economy continues, and online sales on Friday, the big shopping day after Thanksgiving, barely registered growth, up a mere 1%, according to web measurement firm comScore Inc. But yesterday appears to have brought better news, based on reports from several online retailers about sales Monday, the day after Thanksgiving weekend that’s typically the first of the big online shopping days of the holiday season.
Retailer eBags.com posted an all-time record day, with sales yesterday growing 50% compared with the same Monday last year, says Peter Cobb, co-founder and senior vice president. The retailer offers numerous products, including more than 12,000 handbags. It placed nearly all of them on sale and realized 51% sales growth in handbags yesterday compared with the same day last year. The merchant also ran a 20% off promotion on all products, and $10 cash back on all purchases made with PayPal.
Target Corp. had a good day yesterday, a spokesperson says. “Sales were up a solid double-digit percentage this year versus the same day in 2007. And we have found the average order size is slightly higher than last year,” she says. “We have continued our focus on emphasizing our value message as well as our biggest free shipping offers ever and deeply discounted items.”
Web sales yesterday climbed 25% year over year at Moosejaw Mountaineering. “Cyber Monday sales definitely exceeded our expectations given everything we’ve been hearing in the news,” says Jeffrey Wolfe, chief financial officer and chief operating officer. “And our conversion rate was up 35%, which we credit in part to our new web site and in part to deeper discounting.” Cyber Monday is the term coined by online retailer trade group Shop.org for the Monday after Thanksgiving.
Considering current economic conditions, things were smelling good at e-retailer Scentiments.com, where sales yesterday increased 5.4% compared with the same Monday last year and average order value jumped from $67.84 last year to $73.44 yesterday, says CEO Howard Wyner.
“We were certainly encouraged by the results. We were expecting flat to slightly down compared with last year,” Wyner says. “We attribute the increase to aggressive marketing and incentives. We have been offering free shipping on orders over $75 as well as $20 cash back when customers sign up and make a purchase of $50 or more with our branded RevolutionCard.”
Web sales at Abt Electronics Inc. leapt 50% yesterday, says Jon Abt, co-president. While the retailer promoted a handful of items at “pretty steep discounts,” he says, considerable consumer interest in HDTVs, BluRay DVDs and GPS technology boosted the bottom line.
At BigToyExpress.com, sales Monday jumped 15.7% year over year, average order value was up 10.1% and the number of orders placed increased 5.1%, reports co-owner Jody Murdough. “We did not panic and lose our identity by participating in ‘door-buster’ tactics. We consistently provide a solid, straightforward value throughout the year and our customers appreciate that. We do not rely on gimmicks,” Murdough says. “While sacrifices are made during a down economy, parents will decrease spending on themselves before their children.”
Things warmed up a bit at Ice.com. Sales yesterday increased 5% compared with the same day last year, conversion jumped 25% and average order value was up 10%, reports Pinny Gniwisch, executive vice president and co-founder of the online jeweler.
“Yesterday was our first ray of light. Based on recent projections, we did much better than expected,” he says. “Based on all the negative press on Black Friday then hearing buzz about Cyber Monday, people decided they could get the best deals online on Monday.”
Web sales were up at Walmart.com, the retail giant reports. “We are very pleased with our results from yesterday and this past weekend,” a spokeswoman says. “Our sales increased steadily over Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday last year.”
Buy.com reports 40% year-over-year sales growth and its biggest sales day in history for Monday. “Shoppers were looking for the best deals and lowest prices on the Internet on Monday,” says Neel Grover, Buy.com CEO and president. “Buy.com attracted these value-conscious consumers with offers like free shipping on millions of products in multiple categories, and exclusive promotions with PayPal and Bill Me Later.”
American Eagle Outfitters Direct executive vice president Fred Grover says the retailer “is extremely pleased with its Cyber Monday sales, which exceeded expectations.”
Shop.NHL.com, the e-commerce site of the National Hockey League, says sales were up 67% on Friday compared to last year and 25% on Monday. A greater variety of merchandise helped boost sales, says Perry Cooper, senior vice president of Digital/Direct Marketing and Fan Analytics.
Some retailers, however, are reporting sales drops while anticipating better days ahead. At Overstock.com, sales fell 3% yesterday compared with the same Monday last year. “Last year Cyber Monday was in November. In November we had gunned marketing, which gave us a bigger November than we should have had, and a weaker December,” says CEO Patrick Byrne. “So our expectation has been to have a hard time matching November’s days this year, but then to make up some ground in December.”
While the number of orders placed increased 2.7%, sales yesterday wound up in the rough at Golfballs.com Inc., dropping 5%. “However, we were missing several key products that we carried last year,” says CEO Tom Cox. “We now have those products in place so the rest of this week we will be up over the same week last year.”
The major web measurement and research firms say they will report Monday sales and other figures tomorrow. Online retail sales for Monday were expected to grow 2.4%, according to a BDO Seidman LLP survey of 100 chief marketing officers at retailers with revenues of more than $100 million.
“While it is good to see growth, unfortunately this is down significantly from last year, when reports found that actual Cyber Monday sales grew 21%,” says Ted Vaughan, a partner in the retail and consumer product practice at BDO Seidman. Overall, web-based sales are a boon to retailers, he adds, who anticipate 8% growth this holiday season.