E-commerce spending up 42 percent this Black Friday: comScore

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Online sales this Black Friday grew 42 percent to $434 million from last year, according to a comScore Networks study.

The survey measured consumer online non-travel retail spending at U.S. Web sites during the 2006 holiday season beginning Nov. 1. The increased sales are a result of online promotions and bigger ticket purchases, said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni.

"The attractiveness of online promotions, which are running earlier this year, is a big factor in increasing the sales online this Black Friday," Mr. Fulgoni said from Reston, VA. "Also, consumers are willing to buy bigger ticket items, like jewelry and consumer electronics, this year. So the dollars spent per transaction is much higher."

Visits to the leading shopping engines collectively rose 21 percent on Black Friday - Nov. 24, the day after Thanksgiving - versus the average number of daily visits during November.

Mr. Fulgoni said that sites like Shop.org's CyberMonday.com, which features more than 400 promotions, and ShopLocal.com saw a large increase in visits on Black Friday and during the preceding three days. Consumers used these sites to locate online and offline deals.

Bricks-and-mortar stores are getting more aggressive with online promotions and using the benefits of a retail location and a site to engage consumers, Mr. Fulgoni said.

For example, Circuit City is running a promotion that eases waiting in lines. Consumers can buy gifts online and then pick them up within 24 minutes. If the purchase is not ready in that 24-minute timeframe, the shopper receives a $24 gift certificate to the store.

According to the comScore study, during the first 24 days of November total online retail spending reached $8.31 billion, marking a 23 percent increase over the $6.75 billion spent in the corresponding days in 2005.

In terms of site visits, studies conducted by Nielsen//NetRatings and by Hitwise both saw a 12 percent increase in traffic when compared with the same day in 2005.

According to Hitwise, Walmart.com was the heaviest trafficked site, excluding eBay. The site was so trafficked that it stalled for part of Friday.

Following Walmart.com in most hits was Best Buy, Amazon.com, Circuit City and Target.

According to the Nielsen//NetRatings study, the fastest growing product category week over week was consumer electronics, with a 211 percent increase in unique audience from Nov. 17 to Nov. 24. Apparel took second place with 117 percent Web traffic growth, followed by home and garden, which saw an 87 percent growth in the same week.

Growth in traffic and sales on Black Friday may mean marketers can expect the same outstanding results on another prime shopping day, Cyber Monday.

"We expected to see a 24 percent increase this year on Cyber Monday," Mr. Fulgoni said. "But all bets are off now that we saw what happened on Black Friday."

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