Online retailers may be looking at a rosier holiday shopping season than they had been expecting.
After a year of headlines about foreclosures, financial bailouts, job losses and spending cutbacks, initial numbers for the ever-important Black Friday were positive. Black Friday, the name retailers created for the day after Thanksgiving, has long been a significant indicator for how the entire holiday shopping season will go for brick-and-mortar retailers and e-tailers.
And the early results this year look good, according to multiple online measurement companies.
ComScore Inc. reported that last Friday's online sales total was $595 million, making it the second heaviest online spending day so far this year. The 2009 Black Friday online sales total was 11% higher than last year, said Andrew Lipsman, a spokesman for comScore.
“Black Friday, better known as a shopping bonanza in brick-and-mortar retail stores, is increasingly becoming one of the landmark days in the online holiday shopping world,” said ComScore chairman Gian Fulgoni in a statement. “While this acceleration in spending suggests the online holiday season may be shaping up slightly more optimistically than anticipated, it may also reflect the heavy discounting and creative promotions being put forth by retailers that now encompass the use of social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. Cyber Monday — the traditional kick-off to the online holiday shopping season — and the subsequent weeks will be the real test for how online retailers fare this season. That said, this is a very encouraging start.”
Experian Hitwise, another online tracker, reported that Amazon.com was the most visited e-tailer on Black Friday, grabbing 13.55% of all U.S. visits among the top 500 retail Web sites. It marked the second year in a row that Amazon.com garnered the most visits the day after Thanksgiving.
Experian also noted that Wal-Mart.com was the second most visited site with 11.18% of visits, followed by Target.com with 5.65%, BestBuy.com with 4.62% and Sears.com with 2.95%.
ComScore also noted that Amazon.com and Wal-Mart.com pulled in more shoppers than any other Web sites. “Much attention has focused on Amazon and Walmart this season, and both retailers performed particularly well online on Black Friday in terms of attracting visitors,” said Fulgoni. “We will be watching closely to see how these retailers perform during these next critical weeks of the season.”