November 24, 2012, 3:56 PM

Online shoppers spread around their holiday spend

Online sales increased 20.7% on the day after Thanksgiving, IBM says.

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Rather than camp out in front of Best Buy or Toys ‘R’ Us for their post-pie purchasing, many consumers opted for a more comfy venue to kick off their gift buying this Black Friday—the comfort of their couch.  However, while online sales were up an impressive 20.7% this Black Friday compared to the day after Thanksgiving last year, shoppers spent less and purchased fewer items per order, says Jay Henderson, strategy program director for IBM.

The average order value for merchants was $181.22 yesterday, down about 4.7% from the same day last year. Average number of items per order also fell—to 5.6 per shopping trip—down 12% from last year. Henderson says part of this could be because many e-retailers lowered the minimum amount consumers had to purchase to qualify for free shipping.

When it comes to the most popular online shopping categories in terms of sales, home goods retailers led the way in sales growth, according to IBM, which tracks sales at its 500 e-retailer clients for its analysis. Home goods retailers posted a 28.2% increase in sales this Black Friday compared to last. Apparel retailers came in second with a 17.5% increase and department stores in third with sales up 16.8% over last year. 

ChannelAdvisor Corp., a vendor that helps e-retailers get their products listed in comparison shopping engines and on marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon, reports strong sales growth for eBay on Black Friday. Sales on the marketplace grew 30.5% year over year on the day after Thanksgiving compared to 15.1% year-over-year growth for the same day in 2011. And Amazon’s sales are accelerating. On Thanksgiving, the marketplace and retailer reported 34.9% growth in sales compared to the holiday in 2011. For Black Friday, Amazon posted 38.3% sales growth compared to the same day last year. Still, that is significantly lower than Amazon’s 49.8% year-over-year sales increase for Black Friday 2011. Mobile sales for ChannelAdvisor’s e-retail clients accounted for 32.4% of all online sales on Black Friday compared with 19.8% on Black Friday 2011.

Payment processor Chase Paymentech in its Holiday Spending Pulse report reveals a shift in store sales to late Thanksgiving Day sales as many retail shops opted to open their doors on Thursday this year to better compete with web retailers. In-store sales for the full 24 hours of Thanksgiving registered a 70.8% increase over Thanksgiving Day 2011 driven by a 251% increase in year-over-year sales between 6 p.m. and midnight, Chase says. On Black Friday, however, store sales dropped 7.2% year over year, transaction volume decreased by 3.6%, and the average ticket was down 3.7%. The Chase Holiday Pulse spending report is based on data from 50 of Chase Paymentech's largest U.S. e-commerce merchants and also aggregated Chase cardholder spending data at bricks-and-mortar merchants.

Meanwhile, when it comes to online sales, Chase says those increased 15.2% on Black Friday compared to the same day last year. However, the average ticket fell by 11.3%, echoing IBM’s analysis that web shoppers spent more, but did so across more merchants. Chase also noted that online shoppers may be purchasing lower-priced items. It says it will continue watching this trend throughout the holiday shopping season.

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