December 2, 2013, 1:56 PM

Happy holidays, at least online

While the web enjoys a robust start to the holiday shopping season, total retail sales fell 2.7% over the long holiday weekend.

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Coming off the long Thanksgiving weekend, Peter Cobb has a lot to be thankful for. Cobb, co-founder and executive vice president of web-only luggage and handbag retailer eBags.com, says sales today as of 10 a.m. Eastern, are up 39% compared with the Monday after Thanksgiving last year. Sales for the retailer from Wednesday, Nov. 27 through Saturday, Nov. 30 grew 26% over the same period last year. And while sales were flat yesterday because the retailer trimmed its promotions, Cobb is optimistic about today’s final sales figures.

“Cyber Monday last year was an all-time company sales record day so there’s a good chance of another record today,” Cobb says.  EBags’ web sales growth outpaces e-commerce growth figures for the weekend as a whole, according to just-released figures from IBM Corp. But they follow the trend that emerged from the holiday weekend: Total retail sales thus far are gloomy, but they being offset by double-digit web sales growth.

U.S. online sales from Thanksgiving through Sunday were up 14.5%, IBM says. And as of noon Eastern today, web sales are up 21.4% compared with Cyber Monday last year, says IBM, which analyzes purchases and activity on more than 800 client retail sites for its findings. Meanwhile, the NRF reported yesterday that total retail sales over the four-day long weekend fell 2.7% from $59 billion last year to $57.4 billion this year.

IBM also reports that as of noon Eastern today, mobile sales are accounting for nearly 18% of total online sales. Tablets are driving 11% of all online sales, nearly twice that of smartphones, which are accounting for 6.8%.  Mobile traffic represents more than 30% of all online traffic. Smartphones are accounting for 20.7% of all web traffic, compared to tablets at 10%.

Tablet users also are averaging $132.73 per order, versus smartphone users, who are averaging $117.30 per order. As a percentage of total online sales, Apple Inc.’s iOS, the software on iPhones and iPads, is accounting for 14.4% compared with 3.4% for Android. On average, iOS users are spending $125.91 per order compared to $121.34 for Android users. Apple’s iOS is also leading as a component of overall traffic with 21.4% compared with 9.5% for Android.

The strong early Cyber Monday mobile numbers continue a trend that IBM reported over the weekend. Mobile sales remained strong over the four-day weekend from Thursday to Sunday, IBM says. Mobile traffic accounted about 40% of all online traffic, up more than 35% compared to the same period last year. Tablets accounted for 15.7% of all online sales and smartphones accounted for 7.4%. Tablet users also spent an average of $127.73 per order, versus smartphone users, who averaged $111.43 per order. Smartphones accounted for 25% percent of all online traffic compared to tablets at 15.2%. Apple Inc.’s iOS devices accounted for 19.3% of total online sales while Google Inc.’s Android accounted for 3.9%. On average over the four days, iOS users spent $123.45 per order compared to $102.33 for Android users. Apple’s iOS also led as a component of overall traffic with 28.9% compared to 11.8% for Android.

New numbers from content delivery network Akamai, like IBM, suggests Cyber Monday is off to a strong start. Akamai says that as of 11 a.m. Eastern,  retail web sites in North America are processing  more than 9.1 million pages views, up 283% over a typical day and already surpassing last Cyber Monday’s peak.

Akamai estimates that e-commerce spending on Thursday and Friday increased 20% over the same days last year. It adds that some retail categories, such as department store and apparel, saw online sales surge more than 50%. Traffic on Thanksgiving peaked at 9.2 million page views per minute, up 21% from the page views peak on the holiday a year earlier and 77% higher than the peak traffic for the day before Thanksgiving. On Black Friday, peak traffic was 9.3 million page views per minute 23% higher than the day after Thanksgiving last year.  

Colin Sebastian, an analyst for investment firm Robert W. Baird & Co, says eBay Inc. in particular, along with its PayPal online payments arm, is performing better than he expected so far this season.

“Despite multiple data points suggesting modest growth for eBay's marketplace season-to-date, it appears eBay gained momentum over the key shopping weekend, likely due in part to scarce supplies of popular holiday gifts items, such as new game consoles and tablets,” Sebastian writes in a report on holiday e-commerce sales.  PayPal announced that global mobile payment volume (mostly purchases on eBay) for Black Friday 2013 increased 121% compared to Black Friday 2012, he says.

The web sites of EBay, Amazon.com Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. were the top three most-visited retail web sites on Black Friday, according to comScore Inc. ComScore tracks desktop e-retail holiday sales estimates by drawing on online purchase data from its panel of about 1 million U.S. online shoppers, and excludes automobile and auction sales.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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