Mon, Dec 02, 2013 - Page 15 News List

Online sales soar in US buying frenzy

SMART MOVE?Online shoppers in the US may have been wise to avoid the stores with reports of fights and stampedes marring the Black Friday shopping season


Thanksgiving Day shoppers line up with discounted television sets at a Target store in Chicago, Illinois, on Thursday. About 140 million people were expected to shop in stores or online over the four-day weekend, according to the US National Retail Federation.

Photo: Reuters

Online US shopping for Black Friday deals soared to US$3 billion during a two-day period beginning on Thursday, with tablets and cell phones as top must-have items, estimates showed on Saturday.

Online purchases reached US$1.93 billion on Friday, the unofficial start of the retail sector’s holiday season. That marked a 39 percent increase over last year, according to software maker Adobe, which analyzed 400 million visits on about 2,000 American shopping Web sites.

Holiday shopping traditionally accounts for 20 percent to 40 percent of an individual retailer’s annual sales, according to the National Retail Federation.

Early online Black Friday sales, which began on Thursday, the US Thanksgiving holiday, reached US$1.06 billion, up 18 percent from last year, Adobe said.

Technology giant IBM also reported increased numbers in overall online sales as it looked at 800 merchant Web sites. IBM said Internet sales jumped 19.7 percent over last year on Thanksgiving Day and 19 percent on Black Friday, with orders averaging US$135.27, a 2.2 percent increase compared with last year.

Online shoppers may have been wise to avoid stores, with reports of fistfights, a stabbing and a shooting as people elbowed their way through crowded shopping floors to get their hands on heavily discounted items.

Purchases of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices accounted for 24.2 percent of online sales, Adobe said.

Tablets represented 15.6 percent of online sales while smartphones represented 8.6 percent.

IBM found that mobile devices accounted for 21.8 percent of sales.

Of the US$3 billion in total online sales over the two days, US$417 million in transactions was done on iPads and US$126 million was done on iPhones, while Android phones were used to buy US$106 million in purchases and Android tablets accounted for US$42 million, Adobe said.

IBM said tablets were used for 14.4 percent of online sales, against 7.2 percent on smartphones. On average, tablet users each spent US$132.75 and smartphone users spent US$115.63.

The company also found that iPad and iPhone users spent more, shelling out an average of US$127.92, compared to US$105.20 for users of Google’s Android system.

Adobe agreed that Apple users spent more than people using Android devices.

IBM also said purchases made from Apple devices accounted for 18.1 percent of total online sales, against 3.5 percent for Android devices.

IBM and Adobe did not examine in-store purchases.

According to initial estimates of in-store sales released on Saturday by retail research group Shoppertrak, Americans spent US$12.3 billion during shopping over the two-day period, a 2.3 percent increase from the same time frame last year.

Stores that opened their doors on Thursday — a new trend transforming the sacrosanct Thanksgiving holiday — attracted more people than last year, the firm said, adding that traffic in brick-and-mortar shops on Black Friday fell 11.4 percent, with retail sales decreasing by 13.2 percent.

“The Black Friday shopping experience is changing with more shoppers choosing to go out on Thanksgiving Day,” Shoppertrak founder Bill Martin said.

“Consumers increasingly research products online before entering stores. When they arrive, customers know exactly what they want to buy,” he said.

An estimate of total Thanksgiving weekend sales — including both online and in stores — was expected yesterday.

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