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How Etailers Fared on Thanksgiving, Black Friday Weekend

It’s Cyber Monday, and we’re wrapping up the most hyped holiday-shopping weekend of the season, with Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Small Business Saturday behind us. By many accounts, it was a good holiday weekend for merchants, with some key shopping days still ahead: Giving Tuesday is tomorrow, December 3rd, Green Monday is December 9th, and Free Shipping Day is December 18th.

ComScore: Black Friday Sales Exceed $1 Billion 
According to comScore, Black Friday saw $1.198 billion in desktop online sales, making it the season’s first billion-dollar day and the heaviest online spending day to date, representing a 15-percent increase versus Black Friday 2012.

Thanksgiving Day, while traditionally a lighter day for online holiday spending, achieved a strong 21-percent increase over Thanksgiving Day last year to $766 million.

NRF: Number of Black Friday Shoppers up 3.4% 
As for all retail, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said that over 141 million unique shoppers had already or would already have shopped by the end of the big Thanksgiving weekend, up from 139 million over the same time frame last year. Black Friday was the biggest day of the weekend: more than 92 million people shopped (65.2%) for apparel, electronics and more, up from nearly 89 million last year.

However, shoppers planned to spend on average $407.02 from Thursday through Sunday, down from $423.55 last year. Total spending is estimated to reach $57.4 billion.

The NRF also said that according to its survey, four in 10 respondents (42.1%) indicated they shopped online over the weekend, or approximately 59 million shoppers. Of those, the average person spent $177.67 online over the weekend, or approximately 43.7 of their total weekend spending, up from 40.7 percent last year.

NRF also asked shoppers which days they shopped online – more than one-quarter (26.5%) of holiday shoppers said they shopped online on Thanksgiving Day, and nearly half (47.1%) shopped online on Black Friday. Additionally, 35.7 percent shopped online on Saturday and 24.5 percent have shopped or will shop online on Sunday.

Holiday Shopping Patterns Are Changing
With more people shopping for the holidays online through desktops and mobile devices, retailers have begun offering deals earlier than usual – particularly this year with 6 fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and with Hanukkah coinciding with Thanksgiving.

In addition to an earlier start to the season, there is an increasingly earlier start to Black Friday, with more brick and mortar stores opening on Thanksgiving this year than last.

The Washington Post noted the effect on stores in DC, writing, “With retailers opening stores on Thanksgiving Day – Kmart opened at 6 a.m. on Thursday – Black Friday may be losing its appeal as the day to score the best deals.”

And at 2 pm on Black Friday, Forbes reported that retailers were reporting strong sales on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. “Walmart says this has been the most successful Black Friday in its history. By noon on Friday, the retailer processed more than 10 million register transactions in its stores.”

The same phenomenon of a stretched-out shopping period is happening with Cyber Monday: Sears and Kmart announced their longest Cyber Monday sales events ever, which kick off at midnight on Sunday and run through Wednesday, December 4.

Stores are also seeing the effects of mobile. A Sears spokesperson said, “In a sign of the times, a store manager at a Sears in Los Cerritos, Calif. shared that in years past shoppers would ask for assistance referring to a Sears circular in their hands – this year more members have stopped her with smart phones in-hand, referring to products they’ve found on the Shop Your Way app or Sears mobile app.”

No Data from eBay Marketplaces, PayPal Shares Mobile Data
eBay revealed data for its Enterprise unit (formerly GSI Commerce), but not for its Marketplaces business, and its payment unit shared some mobile data.

PayPal said consumers took to their mobile devices to shop throughout Thanksgiving day, with the busiest time between 7:00 and 8:00pm PT. eBay’s payments unit saw a 91% increase in consumers shopping through PayPal mobile around the world compared to Thanksgiving 2012, with this year’s Thanksgiving mobile TPV increasing by 114.7% compared to Thanksgiving 2012.

Where were most of these early birds? Shoppers in these cities made the most mobile purchases through PayPal on Thanksgiving 2013: 1) Houston
2) Chicago
3) Los Angeles
4) Miami
5) New York

As for Black Friday, PayPal experienced an increase in global mobile payment volume of 121% over Black Friday 2012, with a 99.2% increase in consumers shopping through PayPal mobile compared to last Black Friday.

Shipping Carriers: an Earlier Peak to Online Shopping this Year? 
Typically, peak shipping days from the major carriers fall between 1 – 2 weeks before Christmas Day thanks to the impact of online shopping. But this year, FedEx is predicting its busiest shipping day to fall on Cyber Monday – with just over 3 weeks left before Christmas.

FedEx rivals UPS and USPS are sticking with the more traditional date of December 16th as their busiest shipping days – only 9 days before Christmas.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.