Holiday shopping comes early in US
By Jessica Wohl and Alistair Barr, Reuters
November 26, 2012, 12:01 pm TWN
CHICAGO/SAN FRANCISCO -- Online shopping has grown sharply so far this holiday shopping season after U.S. retailers pushed out a slew of mobile and Internet deals that lured consumers before Cyber Monday, traditionally the biggest day for e-commerce in America.
While it remains to be seen if the gains over Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday can be sustained, the latest estimates show shoppers scooping up early special offers via their smartphones and tablets, the way they used to hunt for bargains in brick-and-mortar stores.
Online sales increased 17.4 percent on Thanksgiving and 20.7 percent on Black Friday, compared with 2011, according to IBM Smarter Commerce, a unit of International Business Machines Corp. that analyzes transactions from 500 U.S. retailers.
Cyber Monday, which follows the long holiday weekend, has been the biggest day for online shopping in recent years, as workers return to their office computers.
Now, armed with mobile devices, particularly Apple Inc.'s iPad and iPhone, shoppers are no longer waiting. They are also using the devices to track down the lowest prices.
The average order value on Black Friday declined by 4.7 percent to US$181.22, and the average number of items per order dropped 12 percent to 5.6, according to IBM.
Client sales on Black Friday rose 23 percent from last year, while Thanksgiving sales rose 32 percent year over year, estimated Mercent, which helps merchants sell more on websites including Amazon.com, ebay.com and Google Inc.'s online shopping program.
"What we don't know is whether this is a zero-sum game or whether there is some benefit to retailers by broadening the holiday shopping window," Best said. "There is risk that real growth in retail for the entire holiday may be overestimated based on these early numbers."