Retailers have teased and rolled out online deals for days, even weeks, but the real Black Friday is here.
Several retailers said they beat the average Thanksgiving weekend web sales spike, pegged at 22% by comScore. By contrast, bricks-and-mortar spending fell 2.7% during the holiday shopping period.
Christmas 2013 came early to many online retailers, with some reporting record sales for the five-day period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday that surged past the industry average of 22% reported by comScore Inc. By comparison, total retail spending, including bricks-and-mortar stores, fell 2.7% over the holiday weekend, according to the National Retail Federation, a retail industry trade organization.
“We had an all-time record sales day [on Cyber Monday], as the momentum we saw on Thanksgiving carried through to Cyber Monday,” says Joel Anderson, president and CEO of Walmart.com U.S., No. 4 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 and the online unit of the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Walmart.com didn’t give a percentage increase in year-over-year sales for the Thanksgiving weekend, which is typically the start of the holiday shopping season. But others were more forthcoming.
Web-only home furnishings retailer Wayfair.com, No. 52 in the Top 500, says its Cyber Monday sales surged 50% year over year, surpassing $9 million on what was the retailer’s biggest revenue day since launching in 2002. For the five days from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, it says it racked up $25 million in sales, a 56% increase over the same period last year.
The pace of Cyber Monday sales was fast out of the starting gate, says Peter Cobb, executive vice president and founder of online-only eBags.com, No. 149 in the Top 500. By 10:30 a.m. Eastern time on the Monday after Thanksgiving, sales at eBags were already up 39% over the same time a year earlier, Cobb says.
Cobb says that Cyber Monday went on become the retailer’s largest sales day ever in its 15 years of operation, followed by year-over-year increases of 47% on Tuesday and 22% on Wednesday. “We feel like some of the planning we did in August in paying off,” he says.
He adds that sales increased 26% year over year for the Wednesday-Saturday period of Thanksgiving weekend, “demonstrating that Black Friday sales growth was spread out over multiple days.” Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is so-named because it’s typically the day for many retailers when they compile enough year-to-date sales to begin to produce a profit for the year.
Other retail sources also reported strong holiday web sales growth.
MarketLive, a provider of e-commerce technology and services to retailers, says its clients’ web sales rose by an average of 50% year over year for the five days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. The software provider says increases peaked at 73% on Black Friday, 54% on Thanksgiving Day and 53% on Cyber Monday.
E-commerce technology and services provider Shopatron said web sales for more than 1,000 client e-commerce operators increased 52% year over year on Cyber Monday, when they also recorded a 54% rise in mobile commerce orders. Mobile accounted for 20% of overall order volume on Cyber Monday, Shopatron says.
The surge in web sales, however, also coincides with some aggressive promotional activity. Walmart.com, for example, says it is continuing its “Cyber Week” with 200 online specials offered every day through Friday, Dec. 6, and that it is offering free shipping on all orders of $35 or more. The previous minimum for free shipping had been $50.
At eBags, Cobb says the retailer “spent considerable time in 2013 working on site improvement, responsive design and mobile optimization.” Responsive design enables a web site content to render properly on a mobile device. The payoff came over the past week, he adds, with year-over-year conversion rate increases of 13% on PCs and 17% on mobile devices. “Increases like these make our marketing efforts much more efficient,” he says.
Retailers are also bullish on search marketing. Retailers spent 27% more this year than last year on paid search advertising on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, according to search marketing firm Kenshoo.