November 30, 2009, 12:00 AM

Heavy Thanksgiving weekend online sales continued Monday

Online retail sales were up 13.7% on Monday, compared with Cyber Monday 2008, reports web analytics firm Coremetrics. Web retailers rang up 10% more in sales on Thanksgiving Day than last year and 11% more on Friday, comScore says.

Many shoppers did their bargain hunting on the web this weekend, driving up online retail sales 10% over last year on Thanksgiving Day, and 11% on Friday, says web measurement firm comScore Inc. That trend continued Monday, as web analytics firm Coremetrics says online retail sales increased 13.7% over the Monday after Thanksgiving last year.

Average order value also surged yesterday to $180.03, up 38.2% from $130.24 on the same day a year ago, says Coremetrics, which bases its Benchmark Report on data from some 500 U.S. retail sites, including those of Macy’s, Office Depot, Petco and Williams-Sonoma. Apparel sales per order increased 26.4% and jewelry sales 14.3%, making those the strongest categories in terms of higher average order value, Coremetrics says.

Saturday online sales were up only a few percentage points from last year, according to Coremetrics data. But buying picked up Sunday evening, as retailers began offering their deals for Cyber Monday, as the Monday after Thanksgiving is often called. “The velocity of buying took off Sunday evening,” says John Squire, chief strategy officer at Coremetrics.

The double-digit growth Coremetrics estimates for Monday was in line with the comScore’s estimates for Thursday and Friday, estimates based on tracking the online activities of some 2 million consumers. “While this acceleration in spending suggests the online holiday season may be shaping up slightly more optimistically than anticipated, it may also reflect the heavy discounting and creative promotions being put forth by retailers that now encompass the use of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter,” says comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni.

Data from ComScore, Coremetrics and others suggest consumers were focused on deals this weekend, including on Friday, a day widely known as Black Friday. Visitors to coupon sites on Friday were up 17% over last year to 3.3 million visitors, comScore says. Comparison shopping site reports an increase of 120% over last year in search queries on its site Friday. “Shoppers are continuing to seek ways to stretch their holiday spending as far as possible and that is translating into more searches for gifts with lower price points and retailers with the best prices,” says Siva Kumar, CEO of TheFind.

Coremetrics also highlighted evidence of consumers homing in on good deals Friday. The rate at which consumers left a site after viewing just one page, the bounce rate, increased to 30.86% on Friday versus 22.13% on the same day last year. That reflects, Coremetrics says, “a laser focus on buying a particular item.” At the same time, 4.5% of visits led to sales, up from 3.5% last year, indicating that online retailers were more successful than last year in enticing consumers to buy. What’s more the average order value on Friday was up 35.0% and items per order were up 18.3%, Coremetrics says.

Consumers shopped earlier this year, says Squire of Coremetrics. “At about 3 a.m. Pacific time we saw a real spike in spending, mostly from East Coast buyers,” Squire says. “And we saw the same type of thing at 6 a.m. Pacific time.” He says that online shopping spike occurred earlier this year than last year.

U.S. online retail sales totaled $595 million on Friday, up 11% from $534 million on the Friday after Thanksgiving in 2008, comScore says; on Thanksgiving day this year, retail web sales amounted to $318 million, up 10% from $288 million last year. For Nov. 1-27, comScore says 2009 retail web sales are up 3% to $10.57 billion from $10.25 billion a year ago.

Other e-commerce service providers also released data today about online retail sales over the weekend:

  • Mercent, which helps retailers sell through such online marketplaces as and eBay, says its retail clients’ web sales grew overall 33% on Thanksgiving Day and 41% on Friday, while their sales on Amazon increased 78% on Thursday and 56% on Friday.
  • Online shopping peaked between noon and 1 p.m. Eastern time on Friday, when consumers hit the buy button on $183 million in purchases, says Retail Decisions, a provider of payment processing fraud-prevention services. Criminals attempting to complete fraudulent transactions-that were detected by Retail Decisions-were putting an average of $248 worth of goods into their shopping carts Friday, 23% more than the typical online shopper.
  • Sales increased 67% over last year on Thanksgiving Day and 70% on Friday for clients of Channel Intelligence, which provides online marketing services for manufacturers and retailers.
  • Online payment service PayPal registered a 20% increase in the dollar value of online transactions it processed Friday compared with the same day last year, and mobile payments were 140% higher than during an average Friday. TheFind reported a 75% week-over-week increase in its mobile search traffic on Friday, suggesting consumers were using their mobile phones to compare prices while shopping in stores, the company says.

Many consumers planned to shop on the web today, according to a survey conducted for e-retailing trade group by BIGresearch. That survey found 96.5 million U.S. consumers planned to shop online today, up from 85 million in a similar survey last year. The survey found 91.5% of today’s online shopper will shop from home, 13.5% from the office, 3.8% from a mobile device and 1.5% from another location, such as a coffee shop or a friend’s home.

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