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Big Online Gains for Black Friday Weekend, with Help from Tablets

Solid growth in online holiday spending this November

Ecommerce spending is up 15% so far this November, according to comScore, with a year-over-year boost of 26% on Black Friday itself, the firm reported.

Online sales on brick-and-mortar’s traditional busy day reached $816 million (excluding travel), up from $648 million last year. And the previous day, Thanksgiving, saw $479 million in online sales of its own, up 18% over 2010.

eMarketer estimates that holiday season online retail sales (including all sales but travel made during November and December) will increase 16.8% this year, to $46.7 billion.

“The early data suggests that eMarketer’s ecommerce holiday sales forecast, bullish when compared to other organizations’ projections, is right on target,” said eMarketer principal analyst Jeffrey Grau.

comScore reported that visits to several major Black Friday deals sites increased significantly since 2010, and overall, Amazon and Wal-Mart were the top two sites for online buyers during the post-Thanksgiving shopping marathon.

“Each of the top online retailers generated significantly greater Black Friday activity compared to last year,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni in a statement. “Amazon.com once again led the pack, with 50 percent more visitors than any other retailer, while also showing the highest growth rate versus last year. However, it is telling that the top multichannel retailers also showed strong growth in visitors, demonstrating the importance of the online channel to the retail industry as a whole.”

The National Retail Federation (NRF) reported that the average holiday shopper surveyed by BIGresearch spent $398.62 both online and offline this Black Friday weekend, up from $365.34 last year. Average web spending per shopper was $150.53, the survey found, or 37.8% of the total.

“The rush online during the Thanksgiving weekend is gradually diluting the significance of traditional Black Friday in-store shopping,” said eMarketer’s Grau of online’s growing share of holiday spending. “More consumers are electing to shop online from home and avoid the crowds at the stores. Meanwhile retailers are offering some of their best deals online earlier in the holiday shopping season, effectively turning Black Friday into Black November.”

Tablet owners are contributing to this online spending with their new shopping device, as well. The NRF found most consumers with a tablet would use it for holiday shopping over the weekend, and many are using them to research prices.

As the holiday season continues, these tablet owners are sure to continue browsing, researching and buying gifts on this newest screen.

“The internet is increasingly playing a central role in holiday shopping," Grau noted. "Not only are consumers shifting more of their holiday spending from store to the web, but they are relying more heavily on the internet, such as by going to Black Friday sites, to help them make smarter in-store purchase decisions.”

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Check out today’s other article, “2012 Trends: Video Leads Online Ad Growth.”

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